Good morning everyone. My van was fixed by a good friend and now it is going to rain. As long as I was forced to walk this week we had beautiful sunny weather. Now that I have my van back it is going to rain. I am a blessed man with fine weather and now a fixed van. We are still considering 2 Corinthians 12.
Paul has been spending a great deal of time defending his spiritual authority to the Corinthians. It seems there was a faction in the church that wanted to take on his authority and put him aside. They were criticizing many things about him but Paul simple listed the credentials that the Spirit had given him as an apostle:
I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the "super-apostles," even though I am nothing. The things that mark an apostle—signs, wonders and miracles—were done among you with great perseverance. vs. 11-12
What these Corinthians were doing was like what some adolescents do; in the process of growing they throw off the authority of their parents. But growing Christians and adolescents still need that authority to help guide them through the many dangers of this process. Parents and Christian leaders are not there to Lord their authority over the person but instead to try to warn them of the terrible things they are heading toward. Paul's justification of himself was not so that he could have power but instead so that he could maintain the power of influence:
Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening. vs. 19
His fear for the Corinthians was like any parent of an adolescent, that they would wreak their lives on the rocks of selfishness and lack of repentance:
For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. vs. 20
These are killers in a church and in a persons life. They do not belong to a Holy Spirit filled follower of Jesus Christ. These are the things we find in the immature heart of 3, 4, and five year olds. Sometimes we find them in the heart of an adolescent who has thrown off the authorities God has established over them. It is a leader's and parent's worse nightmare. Paul continues:
I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged. v. 21
Humble him in the same way that a rebellious teen humbles his parents by making them feel that nothing they have taught him actually stuck. But the lesson I take from this is that despite what the Corinthians were doing Paul never gave up on them. He never said "forget you turkeys" and walked away. Just like a parent can never give up on their child no matter the heartaches Paul could not give up on this church. Just as a parent is given responsibility to raise their child regardless of their heart and character Paul had been given responsibility to raise this church in the maturity of the Spirit and service. In other word, despite the actions of the child the parent is still the parent and must respond as a parent.
To be honest perseverance is an easy thing on sunny days; it is the rainy days that take the real effort. It is in the face of rebellion and heartache, pain and suffering, sleepless nights and endless days that true love and spiritual leadership (and parenting) is seen. I want to conclude with a verse that I am taking out of context. Paul was applying it to a different situation but I strongly believe it is a spiritual truth that must be applied in every situation. We have been called to persevere in everything he has given us to do, whether that is spiritual leadership, parenting, friendships, work, evangelism and so on. There is a promise I feel that is attached to this call to persevere so don't give up because you may miss the blessing:
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 8:9)