Subject: Redeemer Downtown Devotional: Fourth Sunday after Pentecost: June 24, 2012

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Fourth Sunday after Pentecost: June 24, 2012

These devotionals are to help you prepare for each Sunday to come in the Christian Calendar.* 


 

[5] For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. [6] For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
[7] But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. [8] We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; [9] persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; [10] always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. [11] 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. [12] So death is at work in us, but life in you.
[13] Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, [14] knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. [15] For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

 
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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