Friday, February 08, 2013

You are not what you appear to be!

In 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2, Paul makes some bold statements about Christians and the church. He speaks of how we "reflect the glory of the Lord' and how the Spirit "transforms us into his likeness in an even greater degree of glory'. Neat statements. But isn't this the congregation that has brought Paul to tears with its rebellion, immorality, false teaching, and misuse and abuse of the spiritual gifts? Isn't this the church that is divided and filled with squabbling and in-fighting and self-righteous judging of others? So what gives?

When Paul claims that the church is being transformed, he is basing his statement and belief not in the individual's or the church community's ability to change itself, but in God's power at work in them through the Holy Spirit.  It's a great picture and an even better reminder.

You may not be the perfect Christian reflecting the glory of God. Your church may not be the perfect community of love and compassion, but God has not abandoned us. His Spirit is working within you and me...and most certainly within the struggling church.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Love is...

1 Corinthians 13 is our text this week. A popular choice for weddings. You will find portions of it on greeting cards and inspirational posters. It was the basis for a series of cute "Love is..." cards and knick-knacks years ago that showed a boy and girl standing shyly either side of some saying like "Love is...bringing them breakfast in bed." or some such.  The truth about what Paul is saying here is tougher. This love is not much about emotion and cute. It's about patient endurance in the face of stupidity and meanness. It's about forgiveness and compassion in the face of hurt and harm. The love he speaks about comes from a decision of the will to love...not a heartfelt gush of warm emotion. Remember Paul's model for love at all times is Jesus. A love that sacrificed itself even for its very enemies. A love that called both hypocrites and followers to account. A love that sought only to do the will of God and not the pleasure of the people around. This love is hard and tough, but essential. To state simply what Paul is saying here...Anything undertaken without love is worthless, pointless and useless. 

Got that?  Then keep it in mind.