Monday, November 5, 2018

The World is Watching

In 2 Corinthians 6, Paul lists no less than 27 items that either galvanize or destroy the gospel we are living out in front of the world.   These 27 can be reduced to three groups of nine, Conditions, Character, and Christ-like.  Inconsistency in any of these can create stumbling blocks that a watching world can use as excuses to not believe our message.  As we saw last week, even though we are ambassadors for our Heavenly King, we don’t get diplomatic immunity in this foreign land.  In fact, we are under greater scrutiny than the locals.

2 Corinthians 6:3
We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 

Things to think about:
·      Let’s look at this more in bite-sized pieces, starting with 2 Cor.6:4-5, “Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger;”
o   The universal experience is one of struggle and hardships.  While we may not experience every one of these Paul mentions, nobody gets a pass.  What people take note of is how you react when you’re going through them.
o   Who have you seen go through especially tough times and marveled at how well they managed keeping their poise and faith?

·       2 Cor. 6:6-7, “in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left;”
o   Do people see in your life what you proclaim with your lips?
o   We’ve said many times that hypocrisy is the biggest turn off to the gospel.
o   Who have you seen be a great ambassador for Christ by virtue of their godly character?
o   Notice how twice in this passage we’re reminded that we can do these things “in the Holy Spirit” and “in the power of God”?  Why do you think that is?
§  To what extent is trying to uphold these values in our own strength a losing battle?

·      2 Cor. 6:8-10, “through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
·      While Paul is describing his lot as an apostle of Jesus, he is in many ways describing Jesus Himself.
·      Jesus on this earth was the culmination of Conditions plus Character.  He did not have it easy but He was the embodiment of God’s character.  See Isaiah 53
o   He left glory and embraced our dishonor
o   He was the recipient of bad reports and we sing His praises
o   He was denied as being the genuine Son of God
o   He was a virtual “nobody” and yet the very Creator of everything
o   He was beaten, but not killed (only temporarily)
o   A man of sorrows yet obedient for the joy set before Him
o   Poor but the King of Kings
o   No place to rest his head but seated at the right hand of God
·      What do you take away from today’s study that particularly resonates with you?
·      How can the intersection of Conditions and Character produce more Christ-likeness in your life?
·      What do you hope people see in your life that makes God’s message compelling?

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