Category Archives: 2 Corinthians

Drawing the Line…

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Photo Credit: Garry Firth

If someone knows where to draw the line, they know at what point an activity or situation stops being reasonable and starts to be unacceptable. If you draw the line at a particular activity, you would not do it, because you disapprove of it or because it is so extreme. When we visit a tropical beach like the one pictured here we can without a doubt know where the shallow waters and the deep waters meet, you have a clear indication when you’re getting into deep waters.

The Apostle Paul draws a line for the Corinthian church near the end of his letter in 2 Corinthians. Paul uses language that is reminiscent of the Old Testament prophets who warned the people of Israel of God’s “razor sharp” justice in response to their disobedience of His laws and commands. “I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent: On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others, since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. (13:2-3) Paul speaks with authority and confidence through Christ and the work of the Spirit in his life. His genuine concern is that the church (the people) are falling into the catches of sin in their lives; there is jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder taking over the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control they are called to live in together through Christ.

The “line” in the water is the created by the contrast of light and dark. This picture or metaphor in scripture often highlights the life we live in Christ (light) and the life we live in sin (darkness). There is a transparent and reflective quality to the “light waters” of life in contrast to the mysterious and hidden “dark waters”. Paul’s concern for the church comes as he sees them heading into deeper, darker waters, and how this will lead them into the hands of a powerful and just God. Paul’s closes his letter with these final words of encouragement that bring hope, reconciliation and unity for the church, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (13:14) If Paul was here today, I am confident that he would have the same concerns and words for us as a church.

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The Letters of Life

There are letters of recommendation, letters of acceptance, letters of commendation, letters of refusal, hate, inquiry, love, complaint or concern. Although very different in the nature of their content each of these letters has a common purpose, they are written to communicate a message or to its intended audience. When we receive one of the above letters we know there is a certain “tone” associated with them. For example, a love letter will have a much different tone than a letter of refusal and a letter of hate will communicate a message clearly different than that of concern.  
2 Corinthians is a letter written by Paul to the church in Corinth. His letter varies in tone and subject matter as he try’s to communicate a number of things to the people. This is a letter written to commend the Corinthian church for responding to his earlier plea to love one another in Christ’s name and to remember how much He loved them. Paul wrote in order to help prepare the people’s hearts to live and give generously and with joy so that the work of spreading the good news of the Gospel would continue. He conveys a specific message surrounded by urgency and warning about understanding and recognizing the teachings and tactics of false teachers and prophets that have made their way into this family of believers. Paul writes with incredible passion, deeply rooted feelings and divine inspiration. He is writing from the deepest depths of his heart, a heart that has been radically transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ.  

Preserved in the Bible for thousands of years, the words of Paul have been interpreted, read, taught, lived out and spoken to generation after generation of people. The message communicated to the people in Corinth is a message that continues to cross cultures even today. It’s timeless reminders and commands hold true to who we are called to be as followers of Christ. This letter and many like it in scripture have the power to transform lives. As followers of Christ who have experienced this transformation we must continue to “eat, sleep and breathe” these inspired words from God. What does that mean for you? For me, right now, it means that through the work of the Holy Spirit my life I must follow as close to that of Christ’s life as I possibly can.  

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