2 Cor 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

     For anyone with a ‘past’ this is a wonderful part of the Gospel.  The assurance  of being  a new creation, leaving the old behind, never to have dwell on it again, lifts the despair and guilt of those with a ‘past’.  I work with a lot of young men who struggle with their ‘past’, dealing with guilt, legal problems, health issues and broken relationships.  Sometimes when all these consequences press in on them, retreat to the ‘past’ becomes appealing.  “I’ve always been ‘bad’.  This is the way I was and I’ll never change so I might as well give up”.  This scripture closes the door to self pity and stands in the way of relapse.

     In the next verses, Paul describes the Gospel as a ministry of reconciliation;  “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Cor 5:18,19)  For the men that I work with reconciliation can be demanding and tough.  Their past is often a siren call to them.  The hard part of being a new creation in Christ is walking out the consequences of your past and being accountable to God’s Word.

     Some say that it’s not fair that dope addicts, drunks and criminals should get off easy.  Their sins should be remembered and they should be punished for them.  For some – the self righteous, the message of reconciliation can be as hard to take as it is for a recovering addict but for very different reasons.  The ministry of reconciliation doesn’t let any one off easy – on the contrary – it points to the path of Jesus, the straight and narrow way.  Punishment is easy.  Some men will go back to jail rather then continue with recovery by becoming a new man.

     Paul tells us;  “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” (1 Tim 1:15)  Of course Paul would go for the ministry of reconciliation – he needed it!  So do the men I work with.  So do I.