For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.2 Corinthians 5:14-15
This is the second letter we have in scripture where Paul is dealing with the issues found within the Corinthian church. They had a lot of problems. Problems with unity, sexual immorality, disorderly worship meetings, pride, and thinking that certain gifts were better than others. To say it plainly, they had problems. But instead of giving up on them, Paul continues in love to address these issues.
And in this particular section of the letter, Paul is highlighting for them the ministry of reconciliation. He’s saying, “all the stuff that I’ve been correcting you on … all that is for a reason. And that reason isn’t just because I want to be heavy-handed or because I’m worried about outward appearances. The reason is simply because the love of Christ compels us.”
Other translations say that the love of Christ constrains or controls.
I want us to consider things that are true of us, simply because we are in the Family!
I’m hoping, for the person who has been attempting to follow Christ purely out of duty or obligation, that today will be a chance for you to discover a better way.
Certainly, we are called to live a certain way and Christian responsibility/Christian duty is real. But what I love about what Paul is doing here, is that he is grounding his admonitions in something bigger than obligation. Duty is not wrong, it’s just inadequate. It won’t get you out of bed in the morning, the motivation will run out.
But the LOVE OF CHRIST is enough to sustain and motivate us for all of life.
I hope that you will find this to be immensely practical, but also deeply theological.
Because it’s the truth of the gospel, and the victory that comes through Christ crucified and Christ resurrected that leads us to practical application. Without that love compelling us, we won’t be able to follow faithfully after God.
Notice in verse 15, we see a summary of what this love compels us to do: live no longer live for ourselves.
Let’s unpack what it means to be compelled by the love of God and to no longer live for ourselves.
Remember the new life we have in Christ comes with great freedom. But freedom isn’t about doing whatever I want, it’s about fulfilling the task I was called to!
I like to say that “following Jesus is better together.”
I really believe that is true and that is by design. We are relational creatures. We are made to live in relationships. In fact, this truth is a theological reflection of our God.
The very doctrine of God reveals that relationships are vital. The doctrine of the Trinity: One God, three persons. Co-equal, co-eternal.
Here we see God revealed in relational terms.
We’ve been made in his image, and we’ve been made for intimacy with him. This is all deeply relational.
In the book of Galatians Paul speaks to the need that we have for one another when he writes: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
You were made for relationships. You were never meant to go through life alone! Instead, you’re called to enter one another’s lives and help carry each other’s burdens!
When we think about connecting, I get that it can be challenging, and it can even be risky. Maybe you put yourself out there and felt like you got burned. Maybe you have a bit of anxiety as it relates to connecting. Some may say that they simply don’t see the need for other people.
But remember, there is a key difference between isolation and solitude.
Solitude is the spiritual discipline of getting alone before the Lord and listening for him. Isolation is cutting yourself off from the community that God has called you to. Isolation is contrary to the will of God. In isolation, you’ve got no one to challenge you, no one to hold you accountable, no one to help and care for you.
In isolation, bitterness and selfishness thrive. It’s when we bring those things into the light of relationships that we begin to get formed and challenged.
Here at Trinity, we believe that part of our mission is to help people connect.
We believe that our small groups are the best environment for these relationships to form.
Let me be vulnerable with you for a minute. Back in 2017, me and my wife experienced a miscarriage. And it was gut-wrenching. And it was very tempting to try to deal with that privately. But we brought it into our community and then we didn’t have to carry that weight alone. The ministers I work with gathered around and prayed for me. And that meant a lot. But what meant the world to me was that the next day when I got home there was a flower arraignment that had been delivered on the counter. And there was a meal on the table, things that had been brought by dear friends that we were in community with. I’m not really into flowers, but it meant so much to know that we weren’t alone in our struggle.
There is no reason to walk through life alone!
I’m passionate about developing genuine community and it only happens in small groups. I love corporate worship and believe it is vital for faith. And I’m a preacher. I love preaching! I truly believe that you ought to be sitting under the teaching ministry of the church weekly! I love this time.
But if the large room worship experience is all you know of Trinity Baptist Church, I’m telling you: You’re missing out!
I’m not saying, “You better get to Bible study!” Rather, I’m saying that for many of you, “you’re missing out!”
The practical application here is pretty straightforward, if you’re not in a class, join one! If you’ve been out of the habit, jump back in!
And this is going to require you to be brave. I’m not trying to be patronizing because that’s the same thing I tell my children, you’ve got to be brave. But you know what, you will need to be brave. It’ll take courage to walk into a classroom where you don’t know anyone. It’ll take courage to go back to a class that you’ve missed for the last eight months. I’m not trying to step on toes, I’m trying to be realistic.
But here’s the bottom line: We’re rooting for you! You walk into a class, and it doesn’t matter the story, we want you there, we’re rooting for you!
And if you don’t feel like they’re rooting for you, you come talk to me because we are actively working to make Trinity a place that can be a family for everyone!
That may seem obvious, but it cannot be overstated. We must pray.
Paul, writing to a different group says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 (ESV)
The CSB translates this as: “Pray Constantly.”
The NLT says: “Never stop praying.”
Get the point? We have a God who wants to meet with us.
Pastor Adrian Rodgers is credited with saying, “The greatest problem we face is not unanswered prayer but unoffered prayer.”
Consider his words and may that not be true of us!
The application here is pretty simple. Pray.
If you don’t know how then I want you to do this.
It’s a simple acrostic that helps guide prayers.
It stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.
You cannot grow spiritually without God’s Word.
This is why we’re doing 27 in 22.
1 Peter 2:2 says, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” He’s talking about craving the word just like a baby craves milk.
I’ve got a baby (she’s actually not a baby anymore, 13 months old!) but when she’s hungry (which is all the time, definitely my kid) she’s going to let you know. She doesn’t care if you’re sleeping, if you’re busy, or whatever else you’re doing. And the truth is, she needs that nourishment and that’s how we must be with the word of God.
There is so much going on in our world and if we’re not growing spiritually, we will be unable to stand firm. There are too many anemic Christians walking around today because they are malnourished spiritually.
In Romans 12:1-2, Paul says …
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
So, you must have intentional times of study. Looking to jump-start or supplement your growth? We’ve got Midweek classes starting in October. There is a ladies study. A study on the Gospel of John. A study on the Old Testament prophet Elijah. And a parenting course that is going to be excellent.
We are compelled to GROW!
I love the words that Paul writes in Philippians 2.
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!Philippians 2:1-8
When we talk about serving, it’s important to know that this is an attitude and an action.
Attitude — we must grow spiritually to the point that we begin seeing every person and every situation as an opportunity to serve.
Are you married? This might be the missing ingredient that is keeping your relationship from flourishing. Unfortunately, we tend to be harshest to those with whom we are closest. But in our relationships, we are called to be a servant.
We are compelled to be servants.
And practically, there are ministries at Trinity that only happen because people step up to serve.
This is not a volunteer push. This is me saying because we’re in the family we are compelled to serve!
If you’re unsure of where you should be serving let me offer two thoughts for you.
Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
This tells me that our generosity reveals our true treasure.
This is not about money; God doesn’t need funds. It’s a heart issue. We’ve been called to be a steward of our resources in such a way that we impact the kingdom and we demonstrate our trust in the Lord.
If the Lord has blessed you with wealth then it’s an opportunity to use it for the sake of the kingdom and as an act of worship.
Now, sometimes talking about money makes people skittish. So, let’s talk about it.
Here at Trinity, we take financial accountability very seriously. In fact, every year we voluntarily submit all our financials to a third-party company for review. And ask anyone on staff, if you spend any amount in the church’s name, you better have a receipt for it.
If you buy something and don’t produce a receipt, you’re in trouble! We’ve got processes and procedures in place to make sure that everyone is accountable. And if you’ve got questions all you have to do is schedule a time to meet with our executive pastor of administration and he’ll address any issue you might have.
What I’m saying is when you give to the ministry of Trinity Baptist Church you can be confident that it is going where it needs to go. We have a financial team that meets monthly to review and protect the integrity of the church. I’m so thankful for their watchful eye on the church and the expertise they have in their respective fields.
That’s why you can trust the church, but let me remind you of why you give.
When you give, needs are being met and lives are being changed. We’ve seen baptisms, salvations, and breakthroughs happen. We’ve been on the front lines of disaster relief efforts; we have an international mission strategy that is taking the gospel to the nations. And recently we’ve been able to significantly aid those in Ukraine. In fact, we’ve had the privilege of coming alongside one family in particular that we’ve been able to financially sponsor, and you’ll see them in this community soon. This is a family that YOU, TRINITY BAPTIST CHURCH, have made a radical difference for. And it’s because of your generosity.
Here’s my challenge: If you’re not a giver, then begin. As a member of Trinity, and a member of the family of God, we ought to be giving so that the kingdom grows, and ministry is taking place.
In the weeks to come, you are going to be receiving information about an opportunity to give called the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. If you’re unfamiliar with what that is, stay tuned. But begin praying now about how generous God would have you be in this regard.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Remember this: It’s only good news if it gets there in time.
Would you commit to sharing the gospel with one person over the next two weeks? Pray for God to place one person on your heart and in your path. And then look for the opportunity!
These are all things that should be true of us, simply because we are in the family. So, let’s go and live a compelled life today because of the gospel!
This article is adapted from a sermon entitled Compelled.
Adam serves as Teaching Pastor in the North Venue. His prayer for Trinity is that we would always be a place that God uses to rescue people and transform lives.
We so often want to define success on our terms, but the truth is that the agape love of God never fails. It never runs out. It never is proved false. And when you and I seek to live in that then we get to taste in part the perfection that awaits us in full when we are united to Christ in Glory.
When you study this chapter, it becomes abundantly clear that our relationship with God and with people is connected. It is impossible to love God and hate those made in His image.