11 February 2017

Stone 41 - 2 Corinthians

In this post we take a look at some random thoughts I had after spending time in the book of 2 Corinthians.

I found this to be a somewhat challenging piece to work through. Partially this was due to my inability to fully grasp the context of what was going on. I found myself reading and re-reading this book multiple times over along with utilizing some other resources.

I found it helpful to take a look at the video for 2 Corinthians and to try and see if I could find how some of the statements had been arrived at.

In the video, the writers point to chapter 2b and declare that true Christian leadership is not about status. What I found was 2Cor 2:17 which states "For we are not like the many who make a trade in God's message for profit, but as those with sincerity, we speak in Christ, as from God and before God."

**Just sit and ponder that for a moment. How often have you heard or even thought for yourself the disgust surrounding televangelist scams? I will not go so far as to claim that I know the motives of those folks but nonetheless, I admit that I also have some skepticism on that.
...we are not like the many who make a trade in God's message for profit...
Even at this early stage it appears as though there were those individuals who would seek to line their pockets with gold.

**Consider our own culture... who are the ones most often lifted on a pedestal and dare I say "idolized"? Is it not the wealthy ones? Rock stars, movie stars, professional athletes, etc. or is it simply those professions which have the breadth of reach which we pay excessive amounts of money? Is it envy of the wealth and success that they have which is the source of that idolization? Interesting thoughts, but Paul declares that they are not like that - they "speak in Christ, as from God and before God."

This stood out to me as possibly having a dual meaning. One to simply declare that they were sent from God and therefore before God in terms of recognizing that their actions will be reviewed by God. Two is the flip side of that in implying that those who are seeking to profit from the message are neither from God nor do they recognize that their actions shall also be under scrutiny.

What I have been reading is that Paul, since he did not fit the wealthy, successful profile, was viewed as less credible than those who did. (Why is that?)

Then in chapter three, we read about Paul addressing the idea of letters of recommendation and/or statements of credentials. As Paul does, so do I find this to be absurd. It seems to me to be somewhat akin to me getting a job and being successful at it for several years and then being asked to provide a list of my qualifications to do the job. Should not the work performed already be evidence enough of my skills and experience? So it seems an odd request that Paul should provide this to the people he helped to bring to a saving knowledge of Christ.

**I have often said that the degrees do not have the value that our culture places on them. Consider the high school graduate with eight years of experience working as a successful technician and a man with eight years of schooling and a Master's degree in the same field? I find these to be two very different profiles but while I understand the effort that goes into obtaining a Master's degree, I feel it pales in comparison to the effort of actually doing the work.

One of my favorite passages comes in Chapter 5, Verse 20.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ; certain that God is appealing through us, we plead on Christ's behalf; "Be reconciled to God."
In the next couple chapters, Paul moves on to talk about the aspect of giving. I have often heard others sort of complain about the giving, (or lack thereof), habits of other people. I usually hear this in judgment of defending a position but not giving financially to the cause. All this as if to say that your argument means nothing unless you put your money where your mouth is. Of course, as finite beings with finite resources, one can only give so much. (And... since when did the amount of money spent or given become a reliable way of determining the truth?) I struggle with this as a person who does not have a great deal of money to share while limping along from check to check. We do try to help as both opportunities arise and as God leads us to participate.I enjoyed reading 2Cor 8:13 in light of that which says, "It is not that there may be relief for others and hardship for you, but it is a question of equality." To share each other's burdens.

Paul talks about the false apostles and warns the Corinthians about believing in a false gospel. Paul points out that these "super-apostles" (2Cor 11:5) were not superior because of their skill in public speaking (v. 6). So again we have this idea that the more eloquent speaker is the more qualified speaker. How does eloquence determine truth...?

**We must all be diligent to test what is being said or written against the biblical narrative to distinguish that which is good. We must question our own motivations for why we believe what we believe. We must then hold on to what is good. (1Thess 5:21)

Please enjoy the explanation of 2 Corinthians in this video from our friends over at the Bible Project.

Until next time,