2 Corinthians 5 – Heaven, Death & Reconciliation

2 Corinthians 5:1 – Why can Paul call shipwrecks, torture and prison ‘light momentary affliction’ in 2 Corinthians 4:17? Because he knows that if this earthly tent is destroyed, we have a home in heaven. He calls this body a ‘tent’ and what God has prepared for us a ‘building’. We own a tent camper and I’ve camped in tents before. When the weather turns bad, you don’t sleep as well in a ‘tent’ compared to a ‘building’. you aren’t as secure when things take an ugly turn, a tent is temporary, a building is permanent. A tent is vulnerable, a building is secure.
Interestingly, as I stared this, Amy Grant’s ‘In a Little While’ is playing:

In a little while
We’ll be with the Father
Can’t you see Him smile
In a little while
We’ll be home forever
In a while
we’re just here
To learn to love Him
We’ll be home
In just a little while

2 Corinthians 5:14 – Paul says that he is convinced, or has concluded, that because Jesus died for all of us, we have therefore all died. I’m not sure that this is figurative, especially considering what eh wrote in Romans 6 (see my post on it here) We all have a certain fear of death and what that process will mean for us. As disciples of Jesus, we perhaps have less fear,. but we still know that we will face the judgment seat of Christ.
But, if we have already died, having voluntarily surrendered ourselves to the righteous judge, we have already passed through the courtroom, if you will. We’ve gone to the judge, before the appointed day, and submitted ourselves to His judgment. And, get this, he has judged us as innocent because of His Son. We have already died, dying again is a non-event.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19 – Not only did God reconcile us to Himself through Christ, he gave us a ministry to do the same. He entrusted this most precious of messages to us. So, what am I doing with it?

2 Corinthians 4 – Speak Up

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 – Ever wonder why God would create us so flawed, so prone to sin and open to temptation. The answer to that is not simple in the least, nor is it trivial. I would not claim to know it period, let alone explain it in a few short sentences written quickly over my lunch break.
However, here in verse seven, Paul gives us a tiny glimpse into part of the reason why. The treasure of the gospel is given to us, flawed men, “jars of clay”, to show that it is truly God’s and not ours. If God only ave the gospel to perfect men or even great men, or if he visibly perfected them upon receiving it, then those who see it might falsely attribute it’s greatness or power to the men rather than God. Worse, those men might assume that the gospel’s power was theirs rather than God’s.
But when we see the power of the gospel at work in men who sometimes can’t even tie their own shoes, if you will, then we can’t help but praise God.
2 Corinthians 4:13 – I believe, but do I speak, as Paul says here? Not nearly often enough. How many opportunities pass by without a mention of my faith. I’m not talking about those ‘golden opportunities’, where it’s clear that someone is searching and we are there to help direct them to God. No, the simple times, the waitress, the cashier, the guy at the opposite gas pump. Times that we could start a conversation or simply mention Jesus in the course of a conversation.
This week a woman was baptized at our midweek service. It’s an amazing story, as every conversion is. She was invited to church as a bank teller while a member was opening a new account (that man met Jesus because he was getting gas next to believer). Because of that invitation, her and her boyfriend came to know Jesus. Nice, eh? But just before her baptism she said, with tears, “Never be afraid to share about your faith, because … I needed it so much.”
That has stuck with me this week, and I hope it does for a long time. I hope it changes me, frankly. The people around us need it so much. Many don’t care, but some do. So, I believe, why don’t I speak?

2 Corinthians 3 –

2 Corinthians 3:3 – What a concept – we are letters from Christ, delivered by those who introduced us to Him. Letters to whom? Those around us, I guess. Our lives then, speak for Jesus. What an incredible blessing, and an incredible responsibility.
2 Corinthians 3:7-11 – The OT ministry, based on commands and rules and law, Paul calls the ministry of death. Harsh? perhaps, but what was it’s effect? To constantly remind those who participated in it that they had fallen short. Way short. Again and again, day after day. Yet it was from God, so it came with glory, such that Moses’ face shone with a brilliance that the Israelites couldn’t gaze upon.
So, here comes Jesus with a new ministry. Not of a constant reminder of shortcomings, but of imparted righteousness that surpasses and replaces them. It is not one of condemnation, but of hope. Hope is superior to condemnation, I don’t care what the context, but when the context is eternal, it is far superior, far more glorious.
Why then, so so many Christians spend so much energy focusing on and proclaiming the dos and don’t of religion? Those only have relevance in the context and light of the cross and gospel of Christ. In that context, obedience is a joy because what we’ve been freely given, but when obedience is the focus, joy is missing. Jared Wilson tweeted today “Obvious to everyone but them: Legalists have no joy. (Holiness: You’re Doing it Wrong)“, which is so true. When was the last time you saw someone whose ministry or religion revolves around obedience who seemed joyful? They peruse holiness as a goal, failing to see (and revel in) the fact that Jesus has already offered his Holiness to them free of charge. it is the acceptance and basking in that holiness that produces in us the compelling desire to obey.
I challenge you – if your faith doesn’t produce regular ear-to-ear grins and a dropping to your knees in awe and worship for the grace and love of God that is manifest in the gospel, you’re missing the point. I know I did for years, and I’m eternally grateful for the people and circumstances that brought me to the awakening that I’m living in now. I hope and pray that I never stop reveling in the Gospel.
Obedience is important, but is secondary – subservient even – to the gospel. That’s what Paul is saying here in 2 Corinthians 3, the law came with glory, but the gospel came with such greater glory as to make the law appear to have no glory at all.

Five for Friday

No Doubt the Singles 1992-2003An “Occassional Series” here at Salguod.net. Inspired by Daniel at Alien Soil, I fire up Media Player on random and post the first 5 songs here.
Want to listen? Head over to my blip.fm profile and look for the songs tagged #five4friday. Sorry, not going to take the time today. If you miss that, let me know, ’cause I’m thinking of dropping that altogether.

  1. No Doubt – Running from The Singles 1992-2003
    my wife bought this CD, and I’m glad she did. Some good tunes, including this ballad.
  2. Lily Allen (DOCTOR ROSEN ROSENRx) – The Fear from It’s Not Me it’s Dr Rosen Rosen
    This is a download that I found through the daily World Cafe email from WXPN. I love the Lily Allen song, and this mellow remix is pretty nice alternative.
  3. REO Speedwagon – Ridin’ the Storm Out from The Hits
    Showing the limts of my collection, this cong came up once before back in March. This live version is better than the studio by a long shot.
  4. Crash Test Dummies – Here I Stand Before Me from God Shuffled His Feet
    Odd but catchy tune by a unique and fun band. This guy has an amazingly deep voice for a pop singer. I love it.
  5. Lemuel Sheppard – Bad Man from WCBE Vol. 6 – Mixx on the Fly
    Great traditional blues tune. Opening lyrics: “Well, I went into a bar / tried to start a fight / couldn’t find nobody who want to die tonight / I’m a bad man / you best leave me be / I’m a real bad man / didn’t your mama tell you ’bout me?” Cool stuff.

Your turn, fire up your MP3 player, put it on random and give me yours in the comments. (Why doesn’t anyone ever do this? Come on, you know you want to.)

2 Corinthians 2 – Forgiveness & Victory

2 Corinthians 2:5-11 – Paul urges them to move from discipline of the sinner to forgiveness. “So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him.” he writes in verse 8. In fact, he offers blanket forgiveness to anyone the church forgives as well. Why? Well, in verse 11 he says “so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” Satan designs for the sinner to be shunned with no forgiveness. For if he is isolated, then Christ is defeated. Jesus came not to condemn, but to redeem. In fact, our condemnation was already complete but Jesus’ coming unraveled it completely. So why then would we want to weave it back together for one of our own in sin?
2 Corinthians 2:14-17 – “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession” What do you think of when you think of triumphal procession? A victory parade after a war? The confetti filled streets of NYC after World War II with overjoyed soldiers spontaneously grabbing nearby nurses for a dramatic dip and a smooch? The celebration of a com from behind victory in the championship game?
The victor does not march out meekly nor somberly. Stand in front of the tanks on parade to keep them from celebrating. If you had been in NYC, just try to stop those kisses. (Have you read of a report of any woman who resented being kissed that day?) Try to keep the athletes from jumping and screaming. In Christ, however, God always leads us triumphantly. Always. He is the victor, he has snatched us from the jaws of death, we are the spoils of war and He marches ahead of us in victory. The victory has already been had.
We must not forget this, we must fix our eyes and hearts on the victory that is the gospel, that has won us out of captivity. It is finished and we march triumphantly with Christ – always.

2 Corinthians 1 – Afflictions and Comfort

2 Corinthians 1:4 – Why does God comfort us when afflicted? Well, the obvious (and true!) answer is that he loves us. I’d say that’s the primary reason, however, Paul here says he does so that we would be enabled to comfort others who are in any affliction. God’s comfort is to extend beyond us to others who may not yet know the comfort of God.
2 Corinthians 1:8-10 – One way that we comfort others in affliction is by demonstrating our faith and endurance during our own afflictions. Paul says he did not want them to be ignorant of his afflictions, so that they might see his faith, and through it, God’s faithfulness.
It’s tempting to assume from this that God gives us afflictions that he could give us comfort and that we in turn might be prepared to comfort others. I’m not prepared to make that leap, although I do believe that as we mature, God will allow us more and greater afflictions to refine and strengthen our faith. Then, being strengthened, we can help others through that same journey. Where is the line between God’s direct causation and things that are just a function of the world he created? I don’t know, and I refuse to speculate.

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