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Paul fought a battle to be able to accurately proclaim the message of the good news on two fronts.
The fledgling church was surrounded by thousands of people who worshiped pagan gods. Christians and Jews were tolerated by Roman society, but they were certainly not appreciated.
Paul also had to contend with false teachers who corrupted the gospel message. He had to correct and unify the church before they could be an effective witness to the pagan society.
Troubles within and without the church seem to be part of church history from its beginning until today.
I checked the Internet for the number of Protestant denominations in America just to see how divided we are. The numbers range from 200 to over 6,000 different denominations, depending on how they are calculated.
It is obvious that the church in America is sadly separated by doctrine and practice.
Add to division between churches the number of factions and cliques that are part of each church body.
Paul knew that a church in conflict would have problems convincing a doubting world that our message is one they should embrace.
Traveling teachers apparently came to Corinth and told the congregation that Paul was presenting a different message from that of the leaders in Jerusalem.
In addition, Paul’s way of ministry was not like that of the popular teachers in the Corinthian temples.
Both issues brought confusion and doubt to the Christians in the city.
Both then and now, if the church and the world is to believe our message the messenger must be authentic.
(1) Paul declared himself to be a genuine and true representative of God.
— 2 Cor. 4.1-2 – Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart.
We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God.
Paul addressed the church “front” and stated that he was not a “huckster,” using the ministry for his own purposes (See 2 Corinthians 2.17).
Instead, he was a surrendered servant of Jesus Christ, who had nothing to hide and only truth to proclaim.
(2) Pointing to the Corinthian culture, Paul also had a message.
— 2 Cor. 4.3-4 – And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.
In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Concerning the second “front” of Paul’s battle, he stated that the surrounding Corinthian culture was blind.
The pagan gods of Corinth and the culture of the Roman Empire had blinded the majority in the city to the good news of what Jesus had done.
(3) Whether in A.D. 50 or in 2021, when the church is united it has so much to offer society.
— 2 Cor. 4.5-6 – For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake.
For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
The church is not to be divided into factions or corrupted by false teaching. The church is not to blend itself with the popular culture by visiting pagan temples.
The church has been rescued from the darkness by the light of God’s good news. We are an example of what God will do for everyone.
As voluntary servants of Jesus Christ, the church declares to the world that Jesus is Lord.
The Treasure in Packing Crates
In 2014, 5,000 replicas of treasures found in King Tut’s tomb were on display at Union Station in Kansas City.
All of those treasures were transported in packing crates. As you can expect, the treasures were on display and the packing crates were put in a store room out of sight.
With that image in mind, consider Paul’s words to the Corinthians.
— 2 Cor. 4.7 – But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.
The real treasure that resides in a child of God is the Spirit of God. People are nothing more than packing crates.
If we want to be effective communicators of the good news, we have to reflect the presence of the Spirit within us. Our own reputation and importance is quite unimportant.
— 2 Cor. 4.8-10 – We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;
9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.
False teachers attempted to deny Paul’s authority in Corinth.
Paul told the church that he was willing to be treated with no more respect than a “packing crate,” if the life of Jesus may be shown as a great treasure.
— 2 Cor. 4.11-12 – For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh.
12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.
If the church as a whole took this attitude of Paul, I am convinced that the world would take notice.
Both the church and people distant from God need Jesus’ servants that desire above all that the treasure of who Jesus is be on display through our attitudes and actions.
May We Pray For You?
If you have a prayer request, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The prayer team at Maywood Baptist Church will pray for you.