Fairmeadow Community Church of The Nazarene
June 13, 2021
  • Good Good Father
  • 2 Corinthians 5:6–17 NRSV
    6 So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord— 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil. 11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast in outward appearance and not in the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. 15 And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them. 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

    2nd Corinthian 2nd Guessing

    If the Corinthians were alive today and on social media, Paul’s actions would have a few comments with the abbreviation, SMH. Shaking My Head. It’s the ultimate troll comment. Claiming moral superiority. The last time someone posted that on something I said, I replied be careful you might get dizzy doing that, but I’m fine over here. Hehe. But seriously, that’s one way to look at what Paul is saying. But of course this is more important than disagreeing about whether the Cubs should stick with Alcantara. There’s more at stake here. But naysayers and trolls always need to be reminded that that they don’t get the final say. It’s easy to criticize and wag your finger or your head, but like Teddy Roosevelt said: the man or woman in the arena, or in this case the ones who are out there actually doing ministry are worthy of respect.
    They were constantly 2nd Guessing Paul. But Paul isn’t trying to be popular he’s thinking about so much more before he’s deciding how to act. If he starts factoring in their opinions of him, he won’t be a true apostle. Too much modern leadership material is about pleasing people.
    If people today were living back in Corinth they might be even worse critics of Paul. They might be focused on his physical appearance. They might be focused on the music he chooses or the temperature in the room. As weak as some of the Corinthian arguments are, they don’t compare to the kinds of things modern spiritual leaders sometimes have to listen to. Some of us don’t have enough to do or to think about if we live on the surface of our own likes and dislikes.
    But Paul lays out for us all a vision for how to live out our lives that addresses both ancient and modern mistakes and false judgments. One way he puts it is location doesn’t matter. Whether we are at home in the body or present to the Lord, the priority is the same. We walk by faith and not by sight. So let’s lean in and learn.
    2 Corinthians 5:12–14 NRSV
    12 We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast in outward appearance and not in the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died.
    Paul basically says, I’m not going to try to defend myself to you. But I am going to explain some things that could make you proud of me as your leader, if you’re willing to look at them. The Choice is yours.
    But it’s not the opinions of men and women, but it is the love of Christ that compels him. The love that goes beyond reason. The love that goes beyond surface criticisms. Look, he says, you may look at me and think I’m crazy for what I’m doing, or you may look at me and think I’m brilliant. But what you think, isn’t what matters. If you like what I’m doing, he says, great, I’m glad. But I’m aiming higher if you don’t mind.
    Christ died for everyone, not just for one. Everyone dies out to self in baptism when they begin the journey of following Jesus. So our opinions die with us in the waters of baptism, or in our public profession of faith, and even more so when we surrender to the fullness of the Spirit. We still have opinions. They may still influence us, but they will never be the most important reason we should or should not do a course of action. The Love of Christ is the reason. It’s about touching the most lives and humbling ourselves in service.
    If you’re standing on the sidelines shaking your head, you’re doing the Christian life wrong.
    2 Corinthians 5:16–17 NRSV
    16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
    Those who looked at Jesus from a human point of view said: no thanks, I’ll pass. A poor itinerant speaker from Galilee? Nah. A carpenter in Nazareth is the Son of God? Nope. A common criminal nailed to a cross is the savior of the world? Impossible. With the eyes of human opinion you can miss it all. It’s that easy.
    Paul says, we used to look at Christ this way…Paul you will remember rounded up Christians and threw them into prison. Tried to stop them any way he could. But something happened on the Damascus road that changed how he saw everything and everyone. A bright light from heaven blinded him to all he was seeing before. After a Christian man laid hands on him in prayer, Paul said scales fell from his eyes. You can read about it in the book of Acts. Something physical happened, yes. But more importantly was the spiritual reality signified in the physical event. Now Paul could truly see.
    So now he’s preaching Jesus wherever he goes. Before he wanted a career in religion. Now the love of Christ compels him even if people think he’s out of his mind. He’s convinced that everyone needs Jesus and that’s what matters from now on. He wanted to please powerful people before. But now things have changed. It’s not that he wants to displease others, it’s just not his bottom line anymore.

    An audience of one

    He’s playing to an audience of one. He sees everyone in terms of who they could be in God’s hands. He sees those far from God as those who could find their way into God’s family. He sees those who know the love of Christ as those who should roll up their sleeves and get to work in spreading that love that compels us.
    The old has gone. The new has come. New life. And eventually a whole world made new. But along the way life after life after life, family after family after family, finding their way into the Kingdom of God’s love.
    If anyone is in Christ they are a new creation! You shouldn’t judge them by who they used to be. You shouldn’t judge them by the surface. You should be able to see what God is doing and you should join God in it. And if you are in touch with God’s transforming love, then that same love that compels Paul, should be compelling you to serve, to love, to minister to those who need it, rather than just pleasing those who already have it.

    Sidelines or on the field?

    So, have you been standing on the sidelines second-guessing others? It’s time to get in the game. Put on the full armor of God and love others in action.
    Have you been serving but you get too quickly caught up in trying to please a certain group of people? Learn the lesson that people are fickle. You can’t please them all if you’re doing God’s will. Watch out for this trap: if people get used to you living to please them and then you don’t, then sometimes people are even more upset than they would be with someone else. How far would you go just to make someone else like you? That’s a bondage nobody needs. It’s miles away from living in the kingdom of God. Too many churches are held back by a few fussy people who want to control what is happening.
    Paul got free of this way of living but he went so far as to participate in the persecution and even death of Christians before he had a traumatic experience that changed the course of his life. He stopped holding the coats of those who were killing the true believers. He stopped carrying water for those connected to the wrong kind of power.
    So don’t let anyone manipulate you. The family of God is here to lead us into light and truth and holiness and loving our neighbors and sharing the good news in wholesome ways. Paul spoke the truth to a church always tempted to slip back into a cozy self-preference. God’s people held onto these letters and recognized the voice of the Lord speaking across the ages and reminding churches in every age that it’s not worth playing games with the things of God. Let’s win the day for love and hope and healing and salvation, amen? Let’s see people for the potential they have in Jesus.
    Let’s do what the love of Christ compels us to do. Let’s keep on doing it until more and more people are found to be in Christ. So we can see the old passing away in our lives, the new taking over so we live in loving ways. And we see God’s new creation happening again and again and again! Anyone here want to see that?
    Let’s pray...
      • 2 Corinthians 5:6–17NRSV

      • 2 Corinthians 5:12–14NRSV

      • 2 Corinthians 5:16–17NRSV

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