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

Friday, December 6, 2013

December 6 - 2 Corinthians 10-13: Paul Defends His Authority and Ministry

Today’s Reading: 2 Corinthians 10-13

The Message

English Standard Version

Thought to Guide Your Reading

Paul boasts of his impressive résumé and calls it the ranting of a raving lunatic.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

We use God's Tools to tear down barriers and building new, healthy habits. I don't change. I am equally as harsh—as you will soon learn.
Let me present my credentials. I am both a sterling example of a Jew and a Christian with battle scars. I was even given a handicap to keep me humble.
Look at me blather on like an idiot!
I fear our frustrations will prevent us from working the next time I visit. Test yourself—make sure Christ is in you.
Continue setting things right. Everyone here greets you.
May Christ's Grace be with you.

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

Paul must defend his ministry.

Of all the books we have read so far, 2 Corinthians is by far the most personal. Today's reading has little to do with systematic theology—the process of organizing all religious truths—and more to do with Paul trying to mend his relationship with a congregation that is being torn apart by people denying his authority. It is very personal, emotional, and makes Paul look vulnerable. Scripture is not a disorganized jumble of propositional truths. These are letters from writers to people they love dearly. It is a shame that 2 Corinthians is ignored as much as it is.

God gives His Chosen People tools to tear down barriers between Him and everyone else.

God does not want us to become great marketers, convincing people to do things they do not want to do. God does not want us to manipulate others with promises of treats or threats of punishment. God wants us to shine His Light into the Darkness, tearing down walls and mirroring His Love to people blocked by sin. We help people build lives of integrity. We set things right. That is our goal.

Boasting of your background means nothing to people setting things right.

I love how Paul preemptively apologizes for sounding like a crazy person when he boasts about his impressive résumé. We will understand why including these self-deflating barbs was important to Paul as we read more of his letters. In reality, your background and certificates mean little to God. All God cares is if you love Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. Do not judge a teacher based on the person's curriculum vitae. Investigate their teachings.
For me, Paul reminds me of myself. Although my résumé is nowhere near as impressive as his, I am blessed more than many in this world. Yet when it comes to setting things right, I cannot allow my background to lull me into slumber. I must set things right to be acceptable to God.

We should be willing to have our congregations test to make sure we are still in Christ.

This is a theme Paul will continue in the books ahead. Christianity is not a personal religion only between you and God. We are to submit to each other—and one way to do that is by allowing our brothers and sisters to test to make sure we have tangible evidence that Jesus is in us. By testing each other we are able to keep each other from going off the deep end.

Do you use God's Tools to tear down barriers or make a more comfortable place for you to lounge around in?

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