Have you ever heard of Saint Augustine? Before his conversion to Christ, Augustine was known for his sexual appetite. He often indulged his flesh, as all unbelievers do in some form. While traveling, Augustine heard the gospel and responded in faith and repentance. Upon returning home, it is said that his former lover called out to him “Augustine, Augustine, it is I!” Augustine turned to her and said, “Yes, but it is not I.” Something changed in Augustine. His salvation not only altered what he believed in his mind, but also his desires and his will.
In 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, Paul writes, “For the love of Christ compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: if one died for all, then all died. And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised” (CSB, emphasis mine). I wish I could draw out every single treasure in these two verses. I’m often overwhelmed by this passage of Scripture as I see the love of Christ put on display in the deepest possible way: He died.
Paul mentions Christ’s death three times in these two verses. If you miss the significance of Christ’s death, you miss the Gospel. And if you miss the Gospel, you miss everything! The Gospel is the most important message in the world (see 1 Corinthians 15). Jesus Christ bore the wrath of God that I deserved because of my sin. My sin was imputed to Christ, and by faith His righteousness is imputed to me (see Galatians 3:13-14). This is the hope of the universe.
Let us say with Paul that the love of Christ compels us. As we look a little deeper at our motivation for ministry, let’s consider the word compels. What does it mean that the love of Christ compels us?
In the greek, the word for compel basically means to keep something from falling apart. The idea is to not let something slip through your fingers but to surround or keep it. The reason for our motivation in ministry is simple: Christ’s love keeps us. He will not let us go. He does not forsake us. We will not slip through His fingers.
As we continue to do all things for His glory, we have unshakable confidence that He is working all things together for our good. The surest way we can know this is because Christ rose from the dead. If death could not hold Christ, what could stop Him from keeping us?
Sometimes the old songs are the best songs. Here are some lyrics from one of those that constantly reminds me of my motivation:
For my life He bled and died
Christ will hold me fast
Justice has been satisfied
He will hold me fast
Raised with Him to endless life
He will hold me fast
Till our faith is turned to sight
When he comes at last