2 Corinthians 5:14-15. For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
Here is one of the most straight forward statements concerning the nature of our union with Christ that we will find in this letter and maybe even in all of the New Testament. This is the beautiful basics of our union with Christ.
Jesus has died for all….therefore all have died.
He died for all….therefore we no longer live for ourselves.
What happened to Jesus happened to us. What Jesus did we do.
We are in Christ (all have died) and Christ is in us (we no longer live for ourselves).
Jesus died for all, therefore all have died. This is a tricky statement. The first all speaks to the great truth that Christ died for the sins of the whole world. He died for everyone. But the second all here most likely means all Christians. Why? Because the phrase all died is a reference to our union to Christ’s death, and the phrase those who live, is a reference to our union with Christ’s resurrection. Both of these are only true of Christians. Jesus died for everyone, but only those who by faith receive his life have died with him and been raised to new life with him.
All of this is foundational to our lives. Paul is connecting the doctrine of Christ’s substitutionary death FOR us and the doctrine of our union with Christ – our own death and resurrection WITH Christ. These two amazing doctrines combine to demonstrate Christ’s love for us. How do we know Christ’s love? He died and was raised for our sake.
But this is much more than just a demonstration of love. Our union with Christ makes his love the new controlling force in our lives – For the love of Christ controls us. The love of Christ, or the life of Christ (Christ is love) is now what moves, rules, and determines our lives. It is the beginning and end. The source and the goal. Christ’s love is life.
This is because love is the greatest power at work in the universe. To know that you are accepted and received. To know and experience forgiveness. To have someone be for you and never against you. A love so great it would give its life in dying. A love so great it would give its life in living. Nothing is more powerful.
Paul says the love of Christ controls us. We resist the idea of being controlled. Aren’t we free in Christ? Yes, free to be controlled. Listen, you are already controlled by love, we all are. Everything we do, we do for the love of something, usually ourselves. But the love of Christ is far greater than the love of anything or anybody else. In Christ, we submit to the greatest lover of all time. Only the love of Christ is both eternal and perfectly good. All other loves come to an end. All other loves fail. But not Christ’s. His love has no boundaries. No deadlines. No conditions. No prenuptial. No divorce. No break up. No cheating.
“To live is Christ” both demands and empowers us to live a life of sacrificial love for others. It demands it because it is what we were made for. We were made to love outside of ourselves. We were created to be image bearers, not narcissists. Submitting to the controlling demands of love will actually free you from the prison of self. God knows this. And because he loves us, he not only demands our love, he empowers our love. How? By loving us first. By giving his life for us and to us. It is the knowing, receiving and experiencing of this great love that frees our hearts to deny self, take up the cross, and follow after Jesus on the ultimate adventure to restore creation and display the kingdom of God by our love for others.
Are you controlled by the love of Christ? Can you see evidence of this in your life? Have you received the love of God in and through Christ? How does meditating on your union with Christ allow you to experience Christ’s love and to love others like Christ at the same time?