It is a rather broad statement that Paul makes. Love controls us because of what Jesus did for all people. As a result, we see people differently. All forms of prejudice, bigotry, and bias are obsolete. No criteria by which we ever judged our neighbor is relevant. There are no categories of nationality, ethnicity, or even sin that can label or collectivize another person.
All have died.
That is the stance of love. It may not be fully realized in each person, but it is intended that, in God's eyes, all distinctions shall be vaporized and all faults shall be forgotten as dead.
Verse 15 goes on ...
"And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again."
We live on, compelled by love, viewing each man and woman as objects of God's love and Christ's redemption, we start seeing our calling differently as well. Our mission is not self-service or exclusive self-interest. It is not loyalty to our cause or anything with which we identify. Our loyalty is to love God and love our neighbors.
We see people differently (Not like the creepy kid in the creepy movie that said, "I see dead people.") We see them as dead to the junk of the world and alive to the Creator and Redeemer of the world. Verse 16 continues the thought.
"So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer."
No one can be categorized, marginalized, or minimized. There are no illegal people. There are no marginal or expendable people. There are no "those people." We can't even find a human, worldly, earth-bound definition for Jesus. There are only people who are the objects of God's love ... and ours if we love God.
Loving God and neighbor tempers our words and judgments. It mutes some of our criticism, tempering our desire to lash out or condemn.
Everyone was made to be a new creation and that is the vision God has in His heart for every person - to become who and what they were created to be:
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" (v 17)
It is about newness, begotten in love, actualized in Christ. Old is gone, gone, gone. Newness has come.
Verse 17 says that God initiated this, "All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:"
Initiated and activated.
God does not sneer at us, frown at us, or make jokes about us at our expense. He pays and keeps paying and His heart is breaking over our brokenness and He is angry about every creepy thing that keeps us down and He shouts at us, "I love you!" And He shouts louder and louder and sometimes wants to shake us to our senses and that is His wrath against "againstness."
We have the ministry of reconciliation. That is our service. That is our calling. That is our mission. It is not the mission of judgment or indignation or offense. It is not the mission of asserting our rights and privileges or drawing a circle of protection around the people we perceive to be ours and excluding everyone else. It is about reconciling all people to God.
In the Greek the word "all" means ALL!
Verse 18 continues this climb to crescendo!
"that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation."
That is what the Christ event was all about: God doing the reconciling to Himself in Christ. But here is the challenge. He is not speaking through a megaphone in the clouds now. He is speaking through you and me and all that we do or say.
His message is "committed," entrusted to us. We represent Him and discredit Him if we, in His Name (and we can never shake that mantle) spend more time being negative or harsh or judgmental than we do loving and wooing and witnessing>
Sometimes we speak hard truth in love, but only in love.
Sometimes we stand, with the poor and oppressed, against powers and unjust systems, but we cannot do it without love, which controls us. For in every system, there are oppressed people who are not identified in God's heart as "them," but as among the dead for whom Jesus died who He desires to live in newness.
They are also downtrodden; they just don't realize it. Their power has enslaved them and we must love them too.
And verse 20 sums it all up, "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God."
Live as ambassadors of Christ, controlled by love. Live that way in your actions, your words, your attitudes, and even in your Facebook postings. You are an ambassador, under constant scrutiny by the world and under orders from the King ... who loves you very, very much ... and trusts you more than you can imagine.