A Compelling Message,
A Compelling Motive
“If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.” — 2 Cor. 5:13-14
WANTED: Messenger; must be willing to work long hours for little or no pay, and travel often at own expense; job hazards include verbal and physical abuse, false accusations resulting in run-ins with the law, and the probability of losing one’s life in the line of duty.
A brief look at this job description quickly brings the thought to mind: “A person would have to be crazy to accept a job like that!”
One man who took up this work admitted that he might appear to be just that when he wrote: “If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God…” From the beginning of his career as the Lord’s messenger, the apostle Paul was constantly aware that his chosen vocation — or rather, the vocation that chose him — would mean a life of self-denial in the interest of the Gospel.
So it happened. Paul was beaten, stoned, hounded from town to twon, imprisoned, and finally martyred because of his witness for his crucified and resurrected Lord.
What was it that drew him, inspired and motivated him to continue on this difficult and dangerous path? By his own admission, it was not his own choice at all. No, Paul was compelled to witness to the Gospel — not forced by the Lord’s will, but rather moved by His love.
The compelling nature of Jesus’ love and the message that He sent Paul to proclaim are one and the same. They are beautifully summarized for us in four words: ONE DIED FOR ALL.
ONE — Jesus Christ and He alone DIED — the ultimate payment for sin FOR — as a substitute for others ALL — no sinner is excepted!
The sins that bind the hearts of men may be thick ropes of outward vice, or they may be the silky threads of selfishness, hatred, and lust hidden in the heart. The devil doesn’t care which temptations he employs as he has his successes against us each day. He knows that open and secret sins alike separate us from God and merit eternal death to our souls.
But — thanks be to God! — “if one died for all, then all died.” This Gospel assures us that, as far as God is concerned, we have already died for our sins, since Christ has died in our place! With God’s wrath expended, there is nothing left to fear, since “there is therefore now NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).
This compelling message that speaks grace to our hearts is also a powerful motivation for us to speak it to others. This is the occupation before us, and we know that the job description for “disciple of Christ” hasn’t really changed down through the centuries:
WANTED: Messenger; must be willing to work long hours for little or no pay, and to be hated by family and friends, if necessary, out of devotion to employer; disregard for temporal goods a prerequisite; on-site job hazards a distinct possibility.
What could possibly make a person desire to take up this work and stay the course? Neither promise of reward nor threat of punishment can do it. Neither personal goal-setting nor the expectation of others will serve the purpose. Only a divine power will move us to do this blessed work of proclaiming the Gospel. This power is the love of Christ that has already sought us out and has already saved us by faith in His own shed blood.
“One died for all.” This is both the message and the motive for Jesus’ employees — which means all of His disicples, which means YOU.
There is no higher calling, no finer occupation. The salary may be low, but the benefits are positively compelling!
–Pastor Bruce Naumann