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(Part 33)


June 19, 2017
Today’s reading: 2 Corinthians 6:1-10

As one community of CFC-FFL, as one Church, as one people of God, we are called to unity. This is for its own sake as well as for the sake of mission. Thus we are called to be “working together” (v.1a). Due to our own human weakness and the challenge of diversity in the body, this is difficult. But God provides whatever we need. His grace is abundant and more than enough for us. The problem is always with us, in our sinful and inadequate responses. Thus, as Paul did, “we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.” (v.1b).

How can we end up truly working together, by the grace of God? It happens as we have one mind and one heart about our work.

First, we must be fully aware of what our work is about. It is all about the salvation won by Jesus for us all. The desire to help save souls is what should permeate our day-to-day lives. “Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (v.2b). The salvation of someone’s soul might even today, at this very moment, be dependent on how you respond to God’s providing you an opportunity to evangelize and witness to that person. If we are sensitive and docile to the Spirit, if we pray for it, God will provide what we need in order to accomplish what He wants us to do. “In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.” (v.2a).

Second, we must know we are a team, one body doing the one work, and our unity is crucial. We try to do nothing that will scandalize our brethren, discourage them, weaken them. “We cause no one to stumble in anything” (v.3a). Otherwise, we cause scandal to others, even those we are trying to evangelize. We strive for unity “in order that no fault may be found with our ministry” (v.3b).

Third, we must realize that we are called and tasked by God Himself. We do His work. This influences everything we say and do, as “in everything we commend ourselves as ministers of God” (v.4a). We must realize what a privilege that is. And we must realize that it would be a terrible thing if we acted in ways that dishonored that privilege. How we act, in the name of Jesus, can affect people’s perception of the God we represent.

Fourth, we must be ready for difficulties and trials, and not be discouraged when these happen. This is also when such difficulties arise due to the actions of our own co-workers. So we are to work “through much endurance, in afflictions, hardships, constraints, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, vigils, fasts” (v.4b-5). The work will indeed be very hard, oftentimes frustrating, but we are to endure and persevere. And we are to encourage and support those of our co-workers who themselves struggle.

Fifth, we must strive to live out godly virtues. Our lives are to be animated “by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, in a holy spirit, in unfeigned love, in truthful speech, in the power of God” (v.6-7a). We are to strive to bear the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Our purity of heart, patience, kindness, love, speaking the truth, all these enable us to work together, in unity and the power of the Spirit.

Sixth, we must strive for holiness in all we do. We fight God’s war, and we are to be holy warriors. We wield “weapons of righteousness at the right and at the left” (v.7b). We all face the one enemy. We can only advance in battle as we work together and watch out for each other.

Seventh, we must be aware of the paradox of the ministry. In the Lord things are topsy-turvy. The first is the last and the last is the first. The greatest is the least and the least is the greatest. The cross is a blessing and gives joy. With such a mindset, we can continue working “through glory and dishonor, insult and praise.” (v.8a). It does not matter which. What matters is serving God. It is up to God to decide what to send our way. Thus what matters to us is what matters to God, not what others think. Often people will perceive us in ways opposite to what we truly are. “We are treated as deceivers, and yet are truthful; as unrecognized and yet acknowledged; as dying and behold we live; as chastised and yet not put to death” (v.8b-9).

Eighth, we must always look to the radical values of the Kingdom, and looking at our situation the way God sees it. God’s ways are not our ways. God’s values are not the values of the world. And so we are looked on “as sorrowful yet always rejoicing; as poor yet enriching many; as having nothing and yet possessing all things.” (v.10). We let go of the things of this world and hold on only to God.

What a wonderful ministry God has given us. We are very privileged. Let us understand what our ministry is all about, and strive to work together to accomplish God’s purposes.

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