Louis Zamperini was a World War II veteran who survived a plane crash, several weeks adrift in the Pacific Ocean, and two years of torture in a Japanese POW camp. But years after those dramatic events, something even more significant happened: Zamperini became a Christian. In 1950, he traveled back to Japan and shared the gospel with many of the people who had once been his enemies.
In today’s reading, we see that evangelism is the work of reconciling people to God. Paul begins his explanation by defending his work—probably against the accusations of his critics. Paul and his companions were not preaching out of selfish motives, they were preaching because “Christ’s love compels us” (v. 14). We, too, speak of Christ to our neighbors and friends because we have experienced God’s love in Christ and long for others to share in it.
This love for us was so great that it came to us “while we were still sinners” (Rom. 5:8) and “while we were God’s enemies” (Rom. 5:10). Through Christ’s perfect obedience, death on the cross, and resurrection to the right hand of the Father, He reconciled us to God. Where once we cursed God or denied His very existence, we now worship Him. Where once we hated God and His ways, we now delight in them. Where once we were far from God, we now call Him Father.
And, like Paul, we long for others to be reconciled to God. All around us are people who are God’s enemies—whether they would acknowledge it or not. It is our privilege to take up “the ministry of reconciliation” (v. 18), telling people the message of Christ crucified for sinners, in the confidence that God delights to make His enemies His friends.
The gospel is the story of how God is making His enemies His friends through Christ. As you speak to others about Jesus, remember that you were once God’s enemy too, and be encouraged that God has the power to work in even the most antagonistic people. Give thanks to God for the privilege of participating in His reconciling work.