â€œAnd all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.â€Â Â (2 Corinthians 5:18)
The great work of reconciling lost men to a holy God has been accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ, yet He â€œhath committed unto us the word of reconciliation,â€ through which we, as His ministers (i.e., â€œservantsâ€), urge men, â€œBe ye reconciled to Godâ€ (vv. 19-20).
This wonderful â€œministry of reconciliationâ€ is outlined in 6:1-10, under three subcategories, totaling 28 characteristics. First, there is a tenfold ministry of suffering. â€œIn all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastingsâ€ (vv. 4-5). On the other hand, it also encompasses a ninefold ministry of godliness: â€œBy pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the leftâ€ (vv. 6-7).
These attributes of suffering, combined with the characteristics of godliness, produce what might be called the ninefold paradox of the ministry. â€œBy honor and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all thingsâ€ (vv. 8-10).
The central paradox of these nine is the great central theme of the Christian life, centered in Christ: â€œAs dying, and, behold, we live!â€ This is the ministry of reconciliation, for â€œthey which live should . . . henceforth live . . . unto him which died for them, and rose againâ€ (5:15). HMM