Father, because we’re a part of Your family, we want to adopt Your values and perspective. Teach us to root ourselves in the invisible yet absolutely real kingdom. Grow our faith stronger and deeper when opposition comes. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read 2 Corinthians 4-5
2 Corinthians 4:1–15 Paul and Timothy’s identity was in God’s invisible kingdom, and they saw themselves as messengers of God’s plan to bring light. Though people accused them of confusing and hiding truth, they explained the good news only makes sense when receivers’ hearts and minds are opened to it. They were not going to use secret ways or deception, but rather would set forth the truth plainly, preaching Jesus Christ and not themselves.
Because they loved their new lives as believers, no obstacle or attack could deter them from the hope and work of God. They had God’s strength and perspective and were excited that even their suffering served to open others’ hearts to God.
Notice that it was God Himself who changed Paul and Timothy’s spirits to know and see God. They simply explained the change, but only God could do the spiritual opening and transplanting.
2 Corinthians 4:16–5:10 Paul and Timothy were undeterred by personal attacks, obstacles, or death threats because they had a concrete belief that God was planning a new, fuller life for them in His coming kingdom. Physical bodies are temporary, but in the new earth, neither spirits nor bodies will break down or die. God guarantees believers new bodies and, in the meantime, He gives them His Spirit. But believers must learn to live obediently through their faith in God’s unseen reality. Paul and Timothy were fully confident that God would make good on His Word, so they lived to honor the light and hope God had given them.
2 Corinthians 5:11–6:2 The Spirit and light God has given believers is a serious responsibility because every believer is now a mediator between God and the world. Their job is to reconcile the rest of their families and cities to God. Paul and Timothy had spent their lives on this work and begged the Corinthians to think with kingdom perspective when they evaluated people’s “successful” ministries or thought about their life with God. It would be a shame for people to hear about God’s offer of reconciliation without responding to it.
Notice that Paul knew he looked crazy from a human perspective but was completely committed to his new life and amazed by his partnership with God as a reconciler. He saw believers as the voice and mouth of the invisible God in the world, so he spent his life sharing everything he heard and knew.
2 Corinthians 4:16-17
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.
- What kind of baggage does the word “evangelism” have for you? How, based on this passage, could you adopt new attitudes and terminology for your role as God’s voice for reconciliation in the world?
- What needs to happen in your own heart and mind to more fully adopt kingdom values and perspectives on life and ministry? Think back on what you know about Paul and Timothy’s values as believers. Then, look at Paul’s differentiation between “those who brag about a successful ministry” and have “a sincere heart” (v. 12).
- Talk with a fellow disciple about any personal fears or insecurities that prevent you from more boldly sharing your resources and energy with your family and city. Identify a specific way you could better commit to God’s work with your spending/saving habits, time, housing situation, commute, recreational activities, or conversation topics. Think creatively about how to act on that new commitment and check in with each other over the upcoming weeks.
- Reread 1 Corinthians 2 and 3—perhaps in multiple translations or in your second language—and identify new vocabulary you could integrate about how to discuss suffering in your life and how to communicate the incredible glory of the new covenant. Then begin looking for opportunities to use your new vocabulary with unbelieving friends and family.
- Fast two days this month, abstaining from at least one or two meals twice. [Spiritual Disciplines]