God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

December 4 - 2 Corinthians 1-4: Choosing Between Suffering and Watering-Down the Message

Today’s Reading: 2 Corinthians 1-4

The Message

English Standard Version

Thought to Guide Your Reading

The worst thing your enemies can do to you is make you ready for the Resurrection.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

Paul to the congregation in Corinth and Achaia.
Our suffering strengthens you which, in turn, strengthens us. Our darkest hour is God's shining moment.
It is better I stay away. Forgive the one who caused the pain. No more guilt.
We have a great responsibility but we preach the entire Message. Your existence validates our work.
The Jews couldn't see God's Light in the Law but Jesus removed the veil. Now we join His Light-Life.
Don't let hard times get you down. Their eyes are blind. We are persecuted but God is by our side. We'll never give up!

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

God comforts His Chosen People as they suffer—sometimes by bringing people to suffer alongside.

God will never abandon you. You are never alone. Sometimes, though, it is better to have someone with you as you suffer through the worst. If we endure, God will bring all suffering to an end and you will rejoice with those who suffer with you.

Paul is rebuilding a strained relationship.

Yesterday, from the end of 1 Corinthians, I mentioned how these letters are not statements of doctrines but personal letters from one person to a group he deeply loves. Today's reading carries that mindset into the main body of the letter. Paul wants them to know he wanted to visit them but could not because of the awkward feelings it would bring up. He would rather have peace and write a letter than show up and cause problems. Then Paul asks for forgiveness for the one who caused him pain. I love the personal nature of these letters.

We cannot set things right by "pouring on the guilt" (2:7, The Message).

People will not set things right when they are threatened with guilt. Instead, we should pour on the love, helping them set things right. Remember, Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world. He came to save us.

Paul cares for the health of the congregation not punishing sinners.

No one is certain if Paul is referencing the same person from the previous letter we read. If he is, then the method of removing him from his community worked. This removal was meant to help the man understand how he needed to change and to prevent him from influencing the congregation to do bad things. Removing fellowship is meant to help the person understand the gravity of their actions and the congregation not fall into the same temptations. It seems the Corinthian congregation forgot the second part and when he repented they did not want to let him back in.

Even through adversity, Paul would not take credit for his work.

The Jews were unwilling to listen about Jesus. They wanted to keep the Law of Moses as their ceremonial law, even if they did not want to follow it. Paul received a lot of persecution because of his teachings. Instead of shrinking away or taking the credit for the large numbers of converts, Paul stood firm and gave God the credit for all he did. God's Chosen People neither back down from His Message nor take credit for God setting all things right.

Do you water down the Message so more people will listen?

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