Have you ever heard of upcycling? It is basically the practice of taking something old and making something new from it. Like this example from pulptastic.com of an old TV console that was transformed into a new aquarium.
In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we find a verse that seems to indicate that God has done some kind of upcycling in our lives. In that verse Paul writes these words, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.”
That is a well-known verse, but it is typically used without any reference to the context of the rest of the passage, even though it begins with the word, “therefore.”
When we put the verse back into the context we begin to see that Paul is talking about how in Christ we are no longer to look at ourselves or those around us the way we did before. God is calling us to take the message of reconciliation that we have received and share that with others.
Take a look at verses 18-20: 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling[c] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
I love this image that Paul gives us about how we are to view our lives. We are supposed to look at ourselves as ambassadors. An ambassador is someone who is sent from one country to another. That involves living among those he has been sent to, getting to know them, their language and their culture, building relationships, but always recognizing that they are there to be used by the one who sent them. What a powerful way to view ourselves. As ambassadors to this world, living our lives on a mission for God.
That puts a different spin on verse 17. In his old life Paul was an enemy of God, but God stepped in and did more than just a little upcycling. He reconciled Paul to himself, transformed him into a new creation and gave him a role as his ambassador. And God has done the same with is. It is time for us to grab hold of this mission God has given us. To realize that we are not who we used to be and to start living like his ambassadors to a world that desperately needs his message of reconciliation.