Reading through the Bible together

Thursday, April 9, 2015

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The words “I, Paul” provide a personal and forceful introduction to this chapter. Many students of this epistle see a notable shift in tone as Paul vigorously defends his ministry. He begins with a “personal request” because some members in Corinth have insinuated that there’s a difference between his weak personal appearance and the stern tone of his letters (vs. 1, 10). Yet he insists that his authority comes from the Lord (vs. 8) and harmonizes with his actions (vs. 11).

“Although we live in the world,” Paul admonishes, “we don’t fight our battles with human methods” (vs. 3). Instead our power comes from God (vs. 4). As Christians, one of our challenges is the temptation to resort to our own strength instead of turning to God.

“I don’t want it to seem like I’m trying to intimidate you with my letters,” counsels Pastor Paul (vs. 9). His life stands in stark contrast to his opponents who are busy “promoting themselves” (vs. 12). Instead “we won’t take pride in anything more than what is appropriate” because they were “the first ones to travel as far as Corinth with the gospel of Christ” (vs. 13-14).

In a recent article in Christianity Today, Andy Crouch poignantly observes that with social media we are dealing with new kinds of problems. It is increasingly common to be caught up in how many “likes” or comments one gets online. Although Western society has prided itself on being very individualistic, Crouch asserts that in some ways we are developing a phenomenon of “fame-shame culture” that becomes “a powerful currency of status” (The Return of Shame, March 2015).  In many ways the principle that Pastor Paul lays down is a helpful one within the online world of status updates. Let’s not get caught up in ourselves, but instead use our social media footprint to encourage others and lift up Jesus Christ.

Michael Campbell