God is on our Side

In the fifth chapter of his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul emphasizes God’s desire for reconciliation with those who are separated from Him.

“Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

Reconciliation between offended parties can be very tedious and difficult work. Many will tell you that unless both parties are truly dedicated to being reconciled, a disagreement or a feud can go on for years or even for life. This is true whether in personal relationships, or in those between whole groups of people or nations.

These words to the Corinthians confirm for us that God, on His part, is dedicated to reconciliation with us, the people of the world. This availability for reconciliation demonstrates to us God’s great love, for as the text says, He is willing to overlook our trespasses in order to restore our relationship. This is astounding considering that we are the ones who rejected God in the first place, and who have rejected Him with our sinful actions too many times to count.

It is a good thing that Jesus supports the concept of forgiving someone “490 times” in Matthew 18. It is a good thing that “God is love” according to 1 John 4, and that love “does not take into account a wrong suffered,” according to the famous love passage of 1 Corinthians 13.

Many people get this picture backwards. They think of themselves as the innocent party who was just minding their own business, when all of a sudden God marched up with a list of unreasonable demands that had to be met or the relationship would be severed. But scripture, as we have seen, just does not fit that picture. God is actually the one who is willing to overlook the past and invite us back into His arms. God is “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance,” according to 2 Peter 3:9.

We are going to have to humble our pride if we are to come to Him. We cannot portray Him as a demanding tyrant who forces us to jump through hoops for His own arbitrary reasons. Rather, God, like a loving parent, knows what is best for us and calls us gently and lovingly to follow the path of life.

The apostles found themselves as ambassadors on Christ’s behalf, literally begging for God’s estranged children to return to Him. God wants us to be with Him! He wants everyone to be with Him! He is on our side! So much so that He would not only overlook our sins against Him, but that He even sent His own Son to die at our hands, who even then prayed “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

God is pulling for us. His invitation to life still stands. In the words of Jesus, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

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Verses on the word “Deacon”

Greek: Diakonos

– “one who serves as an intermediary in a transaction, agent, intermediary, or even courier.”

– “one who gets something done at the behest of a superior, assistant.

Hebrew: Shawrat

– “to attend as a menial or worshipper; figuratively, to contribute to, minister unto, serve.” Describes Levite service under Aaron’s leadership.

(1 Timothy 3:8-13) “Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. Women (wives) must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.”

(Philippians 1:1) “Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons

(Acts 6:1-7) In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jewsa among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

(Colossians 1:7) just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf,

(Colossians 4:7) As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information.

(Ephesians 6:21) But that you also may know about my circumstances, how I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make everything known to you.

Other contexts in which the word is translated other than “deacon” in English:

(Romans 16:1) I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea;

(1 Thessalonians 3:1-3) “Therefore when we could endure it no longer, we thought it best to be left behind at Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith, so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this.”

(Matthew 22:13) “Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”

(Mark 9:35) “Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.’”

(2 Corinthians 9:12-13) “For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God. Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all.”

(Numbers 3:5-7) “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Bring the tribe of Levi near and set them before Aaron the priest, that they may serve him. They shall perform the duties for him and for the whole congregation before the tent of meeting, to do the service of the tabernacle.’”

(Romans 15:8) “For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers,”

(1 Corinthians 3:5) “What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.”

(1 Timothy 4:6) “In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.”

(John 12:26) Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

(Romans 13:4) For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

(2 Corinthians 11:14-15) And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

(John 2:5) His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

(1 Peter 4:11) Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.