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Our present: “new things have arrived”

January 6, 2022

Daily Scripture

2 Corinthians 5:14-21

2 Corinthians 5:14-21

14 The love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: one died for the sake of all; therefore, all died. 15 He died for the sake of all so that those who are alive should live not for themselves but for the one who died for them and was raised.

16 So then, from this point on we won’t recognize people by human standards. Even though we used to know Christ by human standards, that isn’t how we know him now. 17 So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!

18 All of these new things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 19 In other words, God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ, by not counting people’s sins against them. He has trusted us with this message of reconciliation.

20 So we are ambassadors who represent Christ. God is negotiating with you through us. We beg you as Christ’s representatives, “Be reconciled to God!” 21 God caused the one who didn’t know sin to be sin for our sake so that through him we could become the righteousness of God.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

The Apostle Paul was a vivid example of a “new creation.” As a young Pharisee (using his Hebrew name Saul—cf. Acts 13:9), he fiercely opposed early Christians. But he wrote today’s passage to Christians in the city of Corinth that he himself won to faith in Jesus. He said Jesus didn’t have to convince an unwilling God to love us—“God was in Christ, reconciling.” And once reconciled, all of us, like Paul, help share God’s call—“we are ambassadors who represent Christ.”

  • You can read about the encounter with Jesus that changed Saul’s life in Acts 9:1-20. He went from “spewing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples” to being the man who wrote, “The love of Christ controls us…. All of these new things are from God…. If anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation.” In what ways is Christ shaping you into part of the “new creation”?
  • Most Roman, Greek and Canaanite religions offered sacrifices to try to reconcile their alienated, angry gods to them. Paul’s picture of God’s new things echoed a prophet’s sheer joy: “Arise! Shine! Your light has come” (Isaiah 60:1-2). We were the alienated ones. God’s light burst on us as Jesus actively called us back into heaven’s love. Are you reconciled with God? Are you open for God to work through you in 2022 to reconcile others–sharing the light of freedom in Christ?

Lord Jesus, God was reconciling the world (the world that includes me) to himself through you. Shape me into a transparent, winning beacon of the message that God loves us all. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of  Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory serves on the Resurrection staff as Human Resources Lead Director. Janelle finds that her heart is constantly wrestling with the truth that she needs a Savior, and the times when she's at her very best are when she's just too tired to put up a fight.

Suffering from a severe case of writer’s block, I asked my wise husband if he would write the insights for me. I would normally apologize to you for this. However, after you read his message below, you’ll understand why I feel the need to say, “You’re welcome.”


I’m admittedly not big on social media, but I do follow Twitter quite closely. Why? Because I’ve followed a lot of people I look up to. One of the people I follow is a woman who is a web developer for a large tech company—but that’s not where she started. She was originally a high school dropout who got hooked on drugs and fell in with, shall we say, the wrong crowd. She found herself pregnant, single, and homeless. Using online resources and free wifi, she taught herself how to code and got her first job in tech years ago, and has steadily moved up since. Inspiring story, right? We all have our heroes, and they live as heroes in our brains. But our heroes are regular people too.


This woman I look up to witnessed and experienced discrimination in her big tech industry job. Rather than keep quiet about it, she went public, inspiring other victims of this tech company to do the same. And it caused some waves—big ones. They didn’t fire her, but they had other ways of ending her career there, and she she ended up resigning rather than deal with the daily blows to her mental health. Jobless again, she fell back on old habits. Though she had been sober for more than a decade, she fell back into drug use, overdosed, and almost died. She told the story on Twitter so that other people who struggled with addiction would know that there are people out there who still relapse from time to time.


As a collective church, Christianity has its doors open to everyone. But I’ve been to a lot of churches and talked to a lot of Christians for whom that door doesn’t stay open for everyone. Everyone gets a chance to come in, yes—but unless they change their lives to the satisfaction of the people holding the doors, those doors might slam in their faces the next time they try to come in. I’ve seen friends talk with a heavy heart about their friends who are “backsliding” and living the wrong way, and I’ve sadly seen some of my friends have those doors shut for them as they tried to figure things out.


We welcome stories of former drug addicts because they’re powerful stories. People who overcome that and find God are, rightly, heroes. But what happens when our heroes relapse and overdose? What happens when our heroes struggle with depression and check themselves into a psych ward to protect themselves from suicide? For many of us, people are only heroes as long as they live up to the hero name and expectations.


When Paul wrote about God no longer judging people by human standards or counting their sins against them, he wasn’t writing that as someone holy who had never struggled with anything real in his life. Quite the opposite of a drug addict, but more problematic, Paul was someone who had weaponized his faith and used it to persecute others. He didn’t write from a place of accepting others who changed their lives to his satisfaction; he wrote as someone who needed forgiveness and mercy more than many of the people he was writing to, and, in some sense, as an outsider still hoping for a place in the new Christian church.


Powerful conversion stories can be a really healthy part of our faith. But if we find ourselves playing the gatekeepers, holding the door for these sinners as long as they keep their lives together, ask yourself what happens when these sinners are still sinners. I’ve seen what happens to church-goers when the doors are closed to them. There have been times when I’ve been the sinner and have been worried about losing my place in the church too. Remember: we’re all the sinner sometimes. My heroes remain my heroes because of their struggle, not in spite of it.

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.