(Part 62)


June 15, 2015

Today’s reading:  2 Corinthians 6:1-10

“Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (v.2b). The work of sharing Christ, of proclaiming the salvation won by Jesus for us on the cross, is the main work given to us and to the Church. Today and everyday, people are to be offered the gift of salvation in Jesus. Today and everyday, we are to seek any and all opportunities to proclaim Christ.

How are we to live out our calling? How can we act such that “no fault may be found with our ministry”? (v.3b). How can it be that “in everything we commend ourselves as ministers of God”? (v.4a).

First, we must live out truly Christian virtues. We live and work in “purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, in a holy spirit, in unfeigned love, in truthful speech, in the power of God” (v.6-7a). We are doing divine work, serving a divine Master, accomplishing divine purposes. We do things God’s way. We manifest the fruit of the Spirit in every action.

Second, we realize that we fight a holy war, being part of the armies of God and contending with diabolical forces. As such, we fight “with weapons of righteousness at the right and at the left” (v.7b). We fight with holy fire. We are God’s holy warriors.

Third, being in a difficult struggle and in a war that will last till the end of time, we must endure and persevere. We must never give up. We work “through much endurance, in afflictions, hardships, constraints, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, vigils, fasts” (v.4b). We will be bruised and bloodied. We will find ourselves at the end of our strength and resources. We must keep on and persevere.

Fourth, we are not fazed by seeming setbacks, as we seek nothing for ourselves except the privilege of serving. We are able to ride the ups and downs, the victories and defeats, the joys and sorrows. We work “through glory and dishonor, insult and praise.” (v.8a). Whatever happens, we plod on, knowing that we already share in Christ’s victory.

There will be many ironies and contradictions, as we labor in a world that has turned things topsy-turvy, where what is evil (such as contraception, abortion, divorce, same-sex unions) has become good, legal and the new normal. Lest we become discouraged, or lest we lose our way, we always look to Jesus. He is the way and the truth and the life.

What are the antitheses in our ministry? What negative external impressions contrast with positive inner realities?

One, “we are treated as deceivers and yet are truthful” (v.8b). Since the world has declared bad as good, then whenever we speak truthfully of the good, we are called liars and bigots, and even accused of “hate speech.” We speak the truth anyway, in the face of unjust oppression.

Two, we are treated “as unrecognized and yet acknowledged” (v.9a). We do our good work anonymously, not seeking recognition or honors. But whatever good we do does not escape God. Our good deeds are written in the book of life. In fact it is better that we are unrecognized on earth, otherwise we already have our reward. We look to the only acknowledgment that matters, and that is God’s.

Three, we are treated “as dying and behold we live” (v.9b). We expend ourselves and our resources for the gospel. We die to ourselves, giving generously and self-sacrificially. But the grain of wheat that falls to the ground and dies is what gives life. We live for and in Christ, and that is what true life is. To live is Christ and to die is gain.

Four, we are treated “as chastised and yet not put to death” (v.9c). Secular forces and governments chastise us for opposing the evil that they do, even putting us in jail, but our work is not stopped. And if ever our lives are taken from us, that is not the end but just the beginning of an even more glorious existence. Like Jesus on the cross, death is not a stumbling block, but a gateway.

Five, we are treated “as sorrowful yet always rejoicing” (v.10a). The work is hard and there will be much suffering and pain. But we rejoice in the privilege of sharing in a small way in the cross of Christ. It is a privilege to be an evangelizer and missionary, and the greater the affliction, the greater the joy.

Six, we are treated “as poor yet enriching many” (v.10b). We do not have the resources of worldly forces, and we expend the meager resources we do have. We may even be looked on with scorn in the work that we do. We may be mocked for not working to accumulate wealth as the world does. But we bring what is true wealth into the lives of people.

Seven, we are treated “as having nothing and yet possessing all things.” (v.10c). In a secular humanist society, we will be ostracized and even treated as the scum of the earth. We can lose our reputation, our possessions and even our lives. But what we gain is priceless and eternal. In Jesus we have it all.

All the above is the grace of God upon us, undeserved and freely given. The work of evangelization is the greatest task entrusted to us. We must all respond with zeal and commitment. “Working together, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.” (v.1).

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