2 Cor 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (ESV)
How do you feel when you read that verse? I want to challenge your thinking a bit. You should feel really good not because you are currently exercising perfectly moral behavior…nope that ain’t it. This should make you feel good because God is good. The problem is we have missed God and His goodness and what Paul was talking about to create an argument that makes God look more like Molech or Janis than Jesus. Ouch!
We miss out on so much when we miss God. We are so small in our thinking compared to the infinite love of God. Our fallen processor born of Adam wants to dominate the conversation with logic and reason and rules and traditions. God is so different from that. He is the triune perfection of other-centeredness. The Father finds joy in the Son. The Son finds peace in the Father. The Holy Spirit is complete in the conversation. They each love each other with such an unconditional love and total acceptance that this family unit of three is the definition of oneness. We fallen-fruit-consumers just can’t fathom such a God. That is why He came to us to include us in Him. That is why all of mankind needed rescue from deception to see the true nature of God. This is where we find life! We find it in knowing this God who was hidden for so long but is now revealed in Jesus. We rest in Him and find ourselves. We are so included and joined and in union that our very breath is His expression. That is our Father and our Brother and our Mother and our Lover and our Groom and our life. We are included in the awesomeness of God. We were created to share His glory in His family as His child. Yep, we really miss out when we miss God.
Paul wrote all his letters with this revelation in his heart. He knew how included he was. He knew how included we all are. He knew that Grace was Jesus. He knew that Grace is not a covering but a saving. He knew that our fallen-thinkers would be reluctant to surrender to a God that is this good. He knew that we would have difficulty giving in to this relationship in a world that is opposed to inclusive dependency. The more he proclaimed this triune family of Love and acceptance and provision and inheritance and selflessness and unconditional inclusion, the more he faced persecution. Just like today the religious tradition rejected Jesus in His revealed form. They expected a Pagan god like Janis or Molech or Baal. Jesus said that no one had ever seen or known the Father. Now He revealed the Father and the family and the intended relationship. The religious rejected the goodness of God as too easy. The gentiles rejected the goodness of God as too simple. The world rejected and killed God in person. Paul was facing the same rejection.
We have to remember Paul’s situation when we read his letters. As an example 2 Corinthians is very much a letter written about persecution. He is trying to “pump them up” to face all the impending pounding that was coming and they had already experienced. Paul was using his experience and his relationship with Jesus to encourage them. Here is a little build-up to chapter 5 and the infamous verse of impending doom (insert sarcastic sinister laughter right here)!
2Co 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ ‘s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. (ESVST)
What was the suffering of Christ? Total and absolute rejection by the His creation. Paul sets the stage right up front that this is going to be a letter of encouragement for those that really need it.
2Co 1:8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. (ESVST)
We have no idea what kind of stress Paul was experiencing. He says they despaired of life itself. I’ve never been there, how about you?
2Co 2:10 Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, 11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. (ESVST)
Paul stresses the forgiveness as a counter to Satan’s strategy to deceive them.
2Co 3:6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (ESVST)
He spends all of Chapter 3 reminding us that we are no longer under the law that kills but of the Spirit who gives life! We don’t live behind a veil but have seen the light in Jesus. Remember that when you get to chapter 5. It is NOT A LAW discussion, period.
2Co 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (ESVST)
We are being transformed into the image of JESUS! God is doing it! We are receiving it! It is happening from one glory filled ecstatic moment to another expectant goodness filled ecstatic moment. We see how good God is and then He proves Himself to be even better!
2Co 4:6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us (ESVST)
Then Paul steps back and shows us that he hasn’t forgotten that we still have these jars of clay we live in. We can still be beaten and tortured and persecuted to the point of “despairing life itself.” This is his response to those who say “but Paul that isn’t real and that isn’t my experience… all that glory stuff….”
2Co 4:16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. (ESVST)
This is our hope. We are being transformed. Our bodies may be wearing out and squeezed really hard but we are growing and growing and breathing His breath and abiding in His vine and eating His flesh and drinking His blood and being renewed day after day in the truth of this amazing triune Love family!!!
So now in Chapter 5 Paul talks about this “tent” we live in, our bodies. Even if it gets destroyed, God has another one prepared for us. He says that in the body (day-to-day life) or in heaven (ecstatic encounters in His presence) we are living by Faith. We may not “feel” God’s presence in a given moment but we don’t live by what we see but live by faith. Then Paul says this:
2 Cor 5:9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.(ESV)
Duh?!?! Our joy in found in Him. In this relationship, of course we want to please our Dad. We aren’t doing it to earn anything because we already have everything in Him. We are so included we can’t be rejected. Remember that is the revelation that got us here. Remember that is Paul’s reality. Remember that should be our reality…but when we are squeezed what comes out? That is the point to this verse. We may be having a bad day or feel far from God (which isn’t possible since He is closer than your breath, but anyway), or we are not experiencing the intoxicating joy of His person and we get squeezed…what do we do? We go to default mode. We trust God. Our FAITH pleases Him. Our trust in Him pleases Him. This is what it looks like to be in His family.
Now let me give you the next verse (the one in question) in another translation:
2 Cor 5:10 For it behooveth us all to be showed before the throne of Christ, that every man tell the proper things of the body, as he hath done, either good, either evil (WYC)
God is in the business of revealing our true identity. He is in the business of transforming our minds from glory to glory. He is renewing our minds to think with our mind of Christ. When we act out of compulsion or tradition or habit and not out of our heart…His perfect mirror Jesus (Bema seat) reveals the error. We are learning what it is like to be a child of God. We are learning what it is like to love and become love. In our new family, perfectly woven into other-centerdness, God is gently molding and shaping us to be who we really are. This verse is not a “I’m sending you to hell” verse. Not possible. Not Jesus. Not God.
Paul then goes on to tell us his revelation which is our revelation.
2 Cor 5:13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 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. 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
This phrase “beside ourselves” could be translated as: at a total loss to explain or account for something; overwhelmed, astonished (amazed). It comes from the same word we get “ecstatic.” Paul is completely flabbergasted by the revelation of inclusion. He is astonished and amazed by the revelation of acceptance. He is ecstatic in the revelation of our new creation. This is how he can say he doesn’t see people like he used to. He sees everyone as his brother and sister. Even the ones who want to hurt him are a new creation. Even the ones who persecute him are included in the family and they just don’t know it.
This is how Paul can forgive and please God with his Faith in God. This is how Paul can encourage. Paul lives in the immeasurable joy of what Jesus has accomplished. Sometimes he steps out of that “out of his mind state” and communicates “in his right mind” for them (us) and reminds them (us) that it is our nature to be good so be good. If we act like a jerk then we will receive what a jerk receives. Jesus’ finished work is not a license to be a jerk. And, oh yeah, we don’t have to be a jerk because we are living in the ecstatic revelation of what Jesus has done!! Do you see it now?
Lots of words. It is funny to me that it takes so many words to explain such a simple thing: God is good, really really good. Our minds are like a bird’s nest of twisted lies and perceptions when the truth is very simple. The knowledge of that truth, Jesus, sets us free indeed.