Sermon for 03.27.22 Great joy in new life

*Lent 4, March 27, 2022*

*Great Joy in New Life*

*Text:* 2 Corinthians 5:16–21

There Is Great Joy for Those Reconciled to God and One Another by Jesus’
Death and Resurrection.

I. Selfish living—which is really living apart from God and others—is
not joyful living.

A. By nature, we’re all living for ourselves. Paul says that being a
Christian means “the old has passed away” (v 17), even that “all have died”
(5:14). But I don’t want to “die” or lose myself for another.

1. This is the natural worldview that our culture fosters with
advertising that promises we can always be young and beautiful, with
thinking that says I can always be what I want to be, even with technology
that isolates individuals from working together. *(Provide specific

2. Paul says we should “regard no one according to the flesh” (v 16), but
this is exactly what we’re doing—not seeing all people as created in the
Creator’s image.

B. As a result, we don’t think about sharing the truths of the Gospel with
others. There are many reluctant witnesses who do not see the charge of
following Jesus to include sharing the faith with anyone. “In 1993, 89% of
Christians who had shared their faith agreed this is a responsibility of
every Christian. Today, just 64% say so—a 25-point drop” (“Sharing Faith Is
Increasingly Optional to Christians,” Barna Research, accessed April 28,

C. This is all actually a denial of the reconciliation that Christ has
secured for all creation on the cross. It’s saying that I’m on my own, not
joined together with God or other people.

D. But there’s no joy in that. See through the lie, and look more closely
at how lonely life is when we’re not connected to anybody else.

*Illustration:* It was a family occasion and one of those now-rare
opportunities for Dad and Mom to “hold forth.” Nothing planned, just dinner
conversation, but once a question about parenting came up, they always had
wisdom to share. Their children were parents now too—and their spouses were
with them here around the table while the next generation was out of
earshot at their own “kids’ tables.”

“When you guys were young, we talked with you often about how other people
might be feeling.”

“We talked about how you can forgive the class bully and invite the new kid
at school over to play to feel welcome.”

“We talked a lot about how blessed our family is and how maybe some kids
have it tougher at home, so we always want to be sensitive to that.”

II. The life reconciled in Christ—back together with God and others—is
joyful living.

A. In the cross of Jesus Christ, “God was reconciling the world to himself,
not counting their trespasses against them” (v 19). We are back together
with God because the sin that separated us from him has been removed when
Jesus died for it.

B. That makes us all new creations with a new life. We have died, and now
we’re alive, brand new.

1. God’s children are not refurbished or repaired.

2. No, they are made completely and utterly new in Christ Jesus.

C. In this new, reconciled life, there is great joy.

1. During Lent, this Sunday serves as a respite from the season’s
penitential character. Even while we weep and mourn because of our many
sins, God’s mercy is greater than our sin.

2. “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Is 12:3),
Isaiah sings—joy in the midst of all that besieges the world. In Christ, we
are righteous and completely new already now and even more fully at his

3. Even though in this life many things assail us because of sin,
unbelief, the evil one, and death, we can be resolute in our joy because of

III. A great joy of this reconciled life is bringing others back together
with God.

A. God has now entrusted to us the message of reconciliation: “We are
ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on
behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (v 20).

1. Followers of Jesus Christ are made new and are then sent to proclaim
the story, the message of reconciliation, to the world.

2. Each one of us has a unique role in this ambas­sa­dorship. *(Give
specific suggestions for oppor­tunities and training, perhaps with local

B. And being ambassadors of the reconciled life to others is one of our
greatest joys as Christians.

1. Speaking the Gospel is prompted by the Holy Spirit through his
promises fulfilled in Baptism.

2. We who are reconciled to God and each other in Christ Jesus have great
joy for all eternity. What greater joy can there be than seeing others
share the same joy?

*Conclusion:* The delight over at the “kids’ table” was obvious. You could
hear the banter, the squeals. The cousins loved being together. And back at
the big table, they understood why. There’s real joy in living not just for
yourself but also for others. Christ has done all the living—and the
dying—for *us*, reconciling us to God and to each other for eternity,
leaving to us the joy of living for *others*. Amen.