Getting people in Christ is our goal, even as we are in Christ. What does it mean to be “in Christ?”
18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
Today, we begin a walk through 2 Corinthians 5:11-21. In this passage we find that not all brothers believe the same things about God, Jesus, the Spirit, the Bible, faith, and mission. It’s okay. Our job is not to persuade them to our way of thinking, but to engage them in conversation and study, seasoned with prayer, so that the Truth of Jesus’ intent is made clear to all. At the end of the discussion, we may still not agree on all points, but there are a few on which we can already agree:
- Jesus is God’s Word to us.
- Jesus lives in us via His Spirit.
- He will make known to us what we need for today.
- Our job is to follow Christ and help others follow Christ, not convince people to think like we do.
Verse 11 opens with a Pandora’s Box:
11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.
What does Paul mean by “fear the Lord?” Paul has met with Jesus several times; what fear is he talking about? Paul is very good to refer to the Lord Jesus as God (Titus 2:13) and to keep Him elevated in stature (Philippians 2:9-11). In the previous verse (v.10), he makes reference to the throne of Jesus, which is to the right-hand of the Father (Ephesians 1:20). This type of fear is one of respect for the office and of loyalty to his King. At the same time, Paul understands the Plan to bring all things under the authority and unity of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:10). Hence, Paul’s mission is to persuade others to see Jesus as he sees Jesus.
Paul then begins a defense of his ministry to the Corinthians.
12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart.
Because of some fleshly opinions, Paul feels the need to defend himself and his brethren to them. He appeals first to God as their Witness, and then to their consciences, meaning that the Spirit would be confirming what he is saying to them. Then he states the real problem: Pride has reared his ugly head. Pride always brings an “us against them” attitude to any situation, which destroys the unity that we are supposed to have in Christ,”
John 17:21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
Ephesians 4:3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
We must always strive to “keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Being one in Christ does NOT mean that we see eye-to-eye on everything. Here’s why:
1. We are all in different seasons of our lives with different goals, ministries and people.
2. We have different temperaments and personalities through which we see the world and Christ.
3. We have different backgrounds and experiences, therefore our interpretations are different according to our individual views and where we are in the process of sanctification.
4. Christ shows each of us a different facet of the Diamond (who He is), therefore, we get a bigger picture of Christ collectively than we do individually.
Paul explained in his first letter that we are all parts of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). We are designed to be different. Let’s celebrate our uniqueness in Him!
Abba, thank You that my uniqueness is not just weirdness. I celebrate the “different” perspectives that I seem to have from the usual. May I always seek Your face and interface with others in order to get a clearer picture of You. Amen.