Monday, June 11, 2007

2 Corinthians 10:1-18

Clearly Paul and the Christian community in Corinth had a problem. Though Paul had been instrumental in bringing the good news of Jesus to the Corinthians, and though Paul and the Corinthian Christians had enjoyed a deep and strong spiritual bond in Jesus in the early 50s A.D., by now, the mid 50s, the relationship between the two parties festered with conflict. Paul agonized over grievous spiritual errors and sins in the Corinthian church, as well as over relational injuries between that community and him. The Corinthians in turn, roiled by certain people in or close to the community, criticized Paul and denigrated his ministry.

How did Paul respond? We see Paul’s response in numerous ways in his letters to the Corinthians, but particularly in today’s passage from 2 Corinthians 10. Paul took the problems in the Corinthian church – theological, liturgical, spiritual, moral, and relational – very seriously. He did not ignore, minimize, or gloss over them. He confronted and named them for what they were. They constituted dangerous misunderstandings of Jesus and failures to live faithfully to Jesus within their Christian community and in the larger setting of the city of Corinth.

Yet, in taking those problems seriously, he responded to them in love: love for Jesus first; and then, derived from that love, love for the Corinthian Christians. He did not indulge in spite, mean-spiritedness, or hate. He responded strongly, to be sure, but lovingly. Love for Jesus impelled him to respond thus: upholding truth about Jesus and the good news by identifying, condemning, and correcting errors and sins; and reaching out in reconciling love for the Corinthians by seeking their reformation and their restoration to Jesus and to him.

In all of this we see how clearly and passionately Paul sought to hold Jesus in focus as the focus. Paul did not advance or promote himself. He endeavored to honor Jesus and live out Jesus in his own life. He pursued the same for the Christians in Corinth – that they would honor and live out Jesus at least as much as he did.

May we do likewise! May we commit ourselves to hold Jesus in focus as the focus of our lives – that we may in all things honor and live out Jesus; that who we are and what we do may boast of Jesus, not ourselves or anything else in this world, and thus receive his joyous commendation when we come to the end of our days.

Gregory Strong

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