In Corinth, there was these “super-apostles”, not well known apostles like Peter and John, but false teachers attacking Paul. In 2 Corinthians, Paul must defend himself from these individuals. The “super apostles” were stating that Paul was not a real apostle because of his suffering. If he was a real apostle, God would be protecting him, but since he was suffering, this connoted that God was not with him. So Paul counters this by listing his suffering. The “super apostles” boasted of success, and Paul boasted in suffering. And in today’s church, we argue like the “super apostles.”
If you listen to someone talk about a church, often the conversation is on the blessings of the congregation. ”We have a great preacher, we have a great children’s program, we have a great youth group, we have a great building, we are growing, we are reaching out, we have great worship.” Not that these are bad, but this is what we mention often concerning a congregation. We see God’s blessing in success, not suffering. A church that is growing, must be blessed by God. A church that has a ton of good stuff happening must be pleasing to the Lord. Often in church talk we speak like the “super apostles” and present evidence of blessing to prove our worth.
But Paul would not list the same aspects. He might turn this totally around and list the problems in the congregation to connote that the people who attend are truly committed to the Lord. ”The worship stinks, the preacher is boring, what children’s program, youth, we do not have them, and growth, well we baptized someone last year.” In fact, Paul might say that since the church has nothing to offer, this is a sign that the people who still attend there are truly converted to the Lord.
My point is not that we should make church terrible to prove faithfulness, but rather it is to state that success is not always an indication of God’s blessing. A church that is struggling can be as faithful and pleasing to the Lord as one that has the best and the biggest. So instead of listing the blessings of the church, how radical to list the problems and invite someone in to help solve them. Instead of advertising that we have everything for you, we could suggest instead that we have a place for you to serve, because the reality is we need you more than the highly blessed church.
- The God of Blessings
- More About “Laying on of Hands”
- Read “God’s Problem”
- Lament Healing through Responsibility.
- The Doctrine of “Laying on of hands”