5:16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
I hope you are sitting down because I don't want to have any responsibility for you falling down if/when the immensity of what Paul just said becomes clear to you.
You will remember that Paul addressed a situation where someone in Corinth (we don't know who) did something wrong (we don't know what) and the church was having a hard time letting it go. He was sorry, he was not doing it any more and yet they made him live under the cloud of his past. Paul warned them that if they kept it up the man would be crushed by the weight of it.
Then Paul went on to describe in great detail the contrasts between how we are apart from Jesus (living for ourselves) and how we are after we choose Him (living for others).
Now he brings both of these subjects together and lays out before us how we should see and be towards others and what the primary role of a Christian is. Let me lay it out in point form and then wrap it up.
1. We choose to see all people in a new way.
2. God has (past tense) reconciled us to Himself.
3. Those who know and understand have the ministry (job, role, task, privilege) of reconciling others.
4. We don't do the reconciling, we help them see that God has done it already.
Do you see it? At first Jesus was just a guy. Sure he was different, but still just a carpenter's son from Nazareth. People felt free to disagree with Him, laugh at him, ridicule him, and even accuse him of being a sinner and a trouble maker, a threat to the Jewish faith. Paul himself saw Jesus this way. However his eyes were opened and now Paul sees Him as the spotless Lamb and the Son of God Almighty. To stand next to Jesus is to stand on Holy Ground.
Point number one, is that we who are Christians no longer regard others at mere humans to be judged and even ridiculed. We see them as what they can be and will be in Jesus - a new creation. The old washed away and gone. The new as the present reality.
Are you grasping this? We regard no one according to the flesh. We don't see their appearance. We don't see their mental, social, or sexual struggles. We don't see their political or religious affiliations. We don't see their sins and failures. What do we see? We see their true identity. They are sons and daughters of God. God had already reconciled them to Himself. They probably don't know that but it doesn't make it less true. It is our privilege who do know this to treat them according to this reality. It is our privilege as opportunity allows to make them aware of who they really are because of what God has done. We are not the ones to reconcile them to God. He has already done that. Jesus was the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the entire world.
In my city there is a cashier at a store who is clearly in the midst of transitioning from a man to a woman. I don't know why. I don't understand the biology of it or the psychology of it. When I shop at that store I look for him/her. I purposely choose his/her lane no matter how long the line or if another is shorter. I engage him/her in conversation. It's clear from our chats there are heavy burdens. I don't know the history yet and really it doesn't matter. I know something he/she does not know yet. I know their true identity. He/she is a child of the King. God has already reconciled him/her to Himself. When I stand with him/her in the business of a grocery isle I am actually standing on Holy Ground.
The same is true for every person I meet.
"God forgive me for not treating others with the reverence they deserve, not because of their present life but because of who they are in You. Help me to see what You see. Help me to treat them as You would treat them. Help me to kneel by those being crushed by their own shame which has been multiplied many times over by the condemnation of others and tell them "I don't condemnation you. This is not who you are. You are a son, a daughter of the King." Help me to lift them up and give me the words to help them understand who they really are. Father teach me in a real, living, practical way what it looks like to treat everyone as if I am walking and talking with You. Give me the ability to truly practice the ministry of reconciliation. Help me restore the dignity in others that you created, that sin destroyed, and that Jesus bought back. Help to help them see themselves as you choose to see them - a new creation. I have no hope of succeeding without You, but with You all things are possible. Thanks Dad."