By way of introduction
Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. (2 Corinthians 4:2)
According to Paul, author of 2 Corinthians and architect of the new covenant, this is how God is going to further His work in the world. It’s how He is going to spread His gospel around. He is going to indwell us, and then connect us up to people who need Him (which is everybody, so you can start anywhere).
I’m going to stop for a moment before we go any farther, and make sure you know who Paul is talking about in these words of instruction and encouragement. It’s important that you get the fact that you and I are the ministers of the new covenant he is referring to. “This ministry” we talked about last Friday is our ministry. This might have started out being about Paul re-establishing his credentials as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Corinthian Christians, but he is taking time to detail this ministry, because it’s not about Paul anymore; it’s about the Corinthians Christians he’s writing to, and by way of translation, you and me.
But don’t panic, because even though the ministry is ours, the power is not. The “stuff” of this ministry — what we deliver — doesn’t come from us, so there is no need for any of theses underhanded tactics, because they are all related to covering up human limitations. They are mechanisms of inadequacy.
Because it is “this ministry” — the one that relies on the Spirit of God shining in and through the lives of all of us — we are all qualified for it on the strength that the Spirit provides. And since it is a ministry totally based on that Spirit in us, it becomes no longer necessary to hide, deceive, distort or in any way tamper with, or alter the word of God — things that would be necessary in order to compensate for our fears, weaknesses and inadequacies were we relying on ourselves.
All these are coping mechanisms that are necessary when we have to produce the changes ourselves. But this isn’t our ministry, it’s the ministry of the Spirit of God in us. We are not even aware of it all the time; we just show up, knowing that the Spirit of God shows up when we do, because He is in us, and He will show us what to do and give us the strength to do it.
So therefore, that’s why Paul can finally say that the ministry is all about commending ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. Nothing to hide, no tricks, nothing underhanded, just you and me, in the middle of whatever we are going through, counting on the fact that the Spirit of God shows up when we do. The word “commend” here means to introduce. Thus the introduction, “Hi, my name is (your name here), what’s yours?”
This is, pure and simple, the way the Gospel of Welcome goes forward. Since the Holy Spirit is living in us, we have merely to introduce ourselves to people, open wide our hearts to them, and God will take it from there. Can you do that? I think we can all do that.
Day 14 Challenge:
In 2 Corinthians 4:1, Paul spoke about not losing heart. But what is losing heart? Quite simply, it is a description of discouragement and a form of non-clinical depression. We experience depression and discouragement when we wear our veils because these veils keep us from the freedom found in His Spirit, and we lose heart.
Rather, Paul says to prevent us from losing heart, we renounce depending on ourselves, attempting to help God out, trying to earn frequent flyer miles from God toward eternity, considering our sin not as dirty as our filthy neighbor, or rationalizing that God is ‘helping us’ make ourselves into better people.
We are servants of Christ, with our eyes fixed on Him. What He tells us to say is what we are to say, and what He tells us not to do is where our limits are. That, unlike other ministries that try to win the approval of, or please others, is the new covenant ministry. We are servants of this ministry, which is Christ in us.
- Paul says, we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.
- Tell us what it means to commend yourself?
- Can you tell us a time when you introduced yourself to someone and the Spirit took it from there?
- Consider a time when your mind or emotions were fighting with something, but God reached you through your conscience? (Example: when considering a sexual affair?)
- Have you ever gotten lockjaw when trying to share the truth with someone? Good. Long conversations and/or arguments rarely work. Just tell the person the simple truth, trusting that there is a voice inside each person, including the one you are speaking to. That voice was put there by God. Its called a conscience. The conscience inside can be saying,”Yes” even though outwardly, the head is shaking, “No.” Create and post a selfie with your conscience saying,“Yes” but your head is shaking, “No.”
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