Subject: Redeemer Downtown Devotional: Fourth Sunday after Pentecost: June 24, 2012
Photo by Ashley Buechele
Fourth Sunday after Pentecost: June 24, 2012
These devotionals are to help you prepare for each Sunday to come in the Christian Calendar.*
2 Corinthians 4:5-15 (ESV)
What we see in the earliest days of the church is God continually empowering His people for mission in the world. Through moments of triumph, but particularly through episodes of trial and hardship, we see the constancy of God’s presence by His Spirit amidst suffering, persecution, and harassment.
This is certainly the case for Paul, arguably the greatest of the apostles. Amidst affliction, he is not crushed. Despite persecution, he does not waver. While stricken down, he is not destroyed or disheartened. But Paul hastens to say that this is not because of some extraordinary talent that he has; rather, he points that the ability he has to come through these hardships comes from outside of him: “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord....The surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” Paul is not a super-human; he is a redeemed human. Moreover, Paul identifies these times of hardship not merely as moments to endure, but opportunities to celebrate and rejoice in the work of God in and through him. “For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”
Remarkably, Paul indicates that these moments exist not merely for his own piety and growth in character--although they do this--but rather for the benefit of the entire church, “so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” In other words, he sees his personal circumstances not for what they mean for himself alone, but for what they can do for other people. In the resurrection of Jesus Christ, death loses its stranglehold of fear, meaning we no longer need to frantically defend ourselves at all costs. Think: imagine a life where self-preservation and self-absorption were no longer the norm, where service and sacrifice are natural and joyful. This is the consequence of seeing one’s own life in light of the resurrection. Paul understood that salvation means liberation to and for a life of service. Thanks be to God that even in tribulation and external persecution, “the life of Jesus also may be manifested”!
John C. Lin, Downtown Lead Pastor
O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving-kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Collect** from The Book of Common Prayer
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