Corinthians – Belief and Behavior
Somewhere between presumptions of greatness and assumptions of insignificance put on us by other humans, God sees us as His beloved created. He loves us and extends His grace and mercy to us. We become His sons and daughters when we believe what Jesus did for us and accept His gift of salvation. Then Christ lives in us, causing our ordinary lives to carry His bright Light in the dark. God trusts us as carriers of His message to other ordinary people on a search to be filled. Ordinary, unadorned clay pots. HE is God and we are not.
“Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you,” Paul explains to us. “It started when God said, ‘Light up the darkness!’ and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.”
We will have good times and bad times in the work as messengers. Paul explains, “We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus they do to us…”
What is the behavior of those who “spiritually terrorize”?
It’s giving praise and glory to humans.
Let us not praise but only encourage each other to stay filled. A good way to begin a sentence of encouragement is, “I see Jesus in you when _____________”. Sincere encouragement to each other gives automatic praise to God who created us to live for Him and worship Him alone.
It’s comparing clay pots.
Let us not compete but help each other. We are no comparison to what Jesus has done, is doing and will do for us.
It’s gossiping about other ordinary clay pots who might be a little cracked and weary from hard work.
Let us not manipulate and maneuver behind the scenes to get ahead of each other but grab the hand of another and help them up, pick up the slack and give rest to the weary.
Let us stop judging the degree of Light in each other with assumptions and presumptions.
“If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness”. says Paul.
Most of all, let us empty our ordinary, unadorned clay jars of ourselves and of everything that is not Christ so that we can be filled to the brim, to overflow with Christ and His Story.
“So, we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.”
Ordinary, unadorned clay pots filled day to day with God’s grace.
2 Corinthians 4, The Message
Trial and Torture
1-2 Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God.
3-4 If our Message is obscure to anyone, it’s not because we’re holding back in any way. No, it’s because these other people are looking or going the wrong way and refuse to give it serious attention. All they have eyes for is the fashionable god of darkness. They think he can give them what they want, and that they won’t have to bother believing a Truth they can’t see. They’re stone-blind to the dayspring brightness of the Message that shines with Christ, who gives us the best picture of God we’ll ever get.
5-6 Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.
7-12 If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us. While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!
13-15 We’re not keeping this quiet, not on your life. Just like the psalmist who wrote, “I believed it, so I said it,” we say what we believe. And what we believe is that the One who raised up the Master Jesus will just as certainly raise us up with you, alive. Every detail works to your advantage and to God’s glory: more and more grace, more and more people, more and more praise!
16-18 So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.
Dear Heavenly Father,
In good times and bad times, Your promise to be with us still stands. Forever. Thank you. Our praise is to You, alone. Transform me. Transform Your church. Transform the world.
In Jesus Name, Amen