On July 4, 1854 in London, a condemned criminal ironically named Charles Peace was being led to the gallows to be hanged. An Anglican priest was following behind him, reading from the Book of Common Prayer. Believe it or not, in the prayer book there was a ceremony to be read at the execution of a criminal. The priest read the following line: “Those who die without Christ experience Hell, which is the pain of forever dying without the release that death itself brings.” At these words, the criminal stopped, whirled around, and shouted to the priest, “Do you believe that? Do you believe that?” The priest stammered, “Um…I suppose so.” Peace said, “Well, I don’t. But if I did, I'd get down on my hands and knees and crawl all over Great Britain, even if it were paved with pieces of broken glass, if I could rescue one person from what you just told me.”
It’s amazing how sometimes unbelievers have a better grasp of the full implications of the Gospel than the people who preach it. That man who was about to die for his crimes identified something that most law-abiding, church-going Christians never seem to grasp: If we believe what we say we believe, it should change everything about the way we relate to other people. In fact, that should be the primary identifying mark of anyone who truly follows Jesus. You will know Christians not because they go to church on Sundays or because they abstain from cussing and adultery and getting drunk on Saturday night. You’ll know them by how they handle their relationships with others.
This Sunday, we'll look at the most succinct and challenging job description you'll ever read, found in 2 Corinthians 5:16-21. It's Christ's expectation for you and me. Let us not simply walk through life, mumbling our pre-digested prayers and tending to our religious duties, while our culture shambles along to its demise; let us be ambassadors for Christ, ministers of reconciliation between God and man.