Friday, June 19th 2 Corinthians 6:3-13

We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.  We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open to you. There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours. In return—I speak as to children—open wide your hearts also.  2 Corinthians 6:3-13

 

Sometimes it is helpful, when reading Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, to remember what we know of his time there.

 

Acts 18 tells us that Paul went to Corinth and began teaching in the synagogue there.  That arrangement didn’t last long, due to the heated opposition he was receiving, Paul moved next door to a home where he continued to teach.  Paul stayed there for 1½ years before moving on.  He left behind a strong Christian community that included Crispus, the leader of the synagogue next door.

 

Any person who has come to faith under the leadership of a good pastor, or any pastor who has laid his/her heart on the line in trying to build a Christian congregation can relate to the passion and the pathos of Paul’s time in Corinth.  This wasn’t about a person attending a church because it was “just the thing to do” nor was it about a pastor who considered him/herself a religious professional getting paid to do a job. 

 

And so it was, on down the road, that Paul heard that the church in Corinth was divided and falling apart.  The two letters he wrote (scholars think there was at least one more that wasn’t preserved) were attempts to get the congregation back on track.  They also include passages like today’s reading where Paul is reminding his friends of all that he went through in order to be among them, teaching and modeling the grace of God.  He suffered mightily.

 

There are two messages cloaked in Paul’s list of sufferings.  First, there is the reminder that Paul was willing to do whatever it took, suffer whatever would come his way, because of his passion for the good news of God’s love and the power of the Holy Spirit who guided and empowered him.  Paul understood that he had been bought with a price and thus was willing to pay any price to reach new believers.

 

And second, there is a subtle message to the Corinthians (and to us) that we are seriously misguided if we think that the Christian faith is a path to a safe and secure life of leisure and success.  Although we bear witness that life with Christ is better than life without, what that really means is that life is more authentic, more real, more meaningful.  We ought not be surprised when following Jesus gets difficult, when we find opposition, when we suffer along the way.

 

The Church will always find ways to be disappointing.  Division is just one decision away.  Broken people living in community consciously or unconsciously bring brokenness.  But none of that will stop the forward progress of the faith.

 

Let us pray:  Gracious Lord, we have often been disappointed in our faith journey, just as we have often been disappointments to you or others.  Protect us from discouragement and division.  Keep us strong in the face of opposition and hardship.  And work in us to promote the unity of the faithful even as we seek to spread the faith.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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One Response to “Friday, June 19th 2 Corinthians 6:3-13”

  1. Bob harner Says:

    Paul’s purpose in this passage seems tied to the message of reconciliation in chapter 5 and the urgency expressed in the first two verses of chapter 6 for the whole church to participate in its dissemination.. He does not just list the sufferings of persecution but also the suffering of faithfulness in following Christ, the sufferings of discipline in discipleship. Paul is calling the church to enter into the suffering of reconciliation the world to God through Jesus Christ and all that means.

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