Going Deeper 06.17.2021

The second reading for Pentecost 4... 2 Corinthians 6:1-13

As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says, “At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.” See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything. We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open to you. There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours. In return—I speak as to children—open wide your hearts also.

There are a couple of very important things shared in that opening verse.

First, it is always important for us to remember that our goal is to "work together with him."  Two verses earlier, Paul had this to say: "So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us..."  As ambassadors we go to others on behalf of God.  This is our mission.  But we do not do so in our own wisdom our strength but serve as partners with God.  And with God as our partner, anything is possible.  How very important this is for us as we at Zion look be empowered by God for the strengthening and extending of our Kingdom!!

Secondly, our effort to serve in this capacity demonstrates we have not "accept[ed] the grace of God in vain."  We understand that grace is a double-change agent.  Grace first changes us from lost to found, from sinners to saints, from prodigals to restored children of God.  Then grace continues its work as it inspires our ongoing transformation as children of God.   We come to see that salvation is not simply a gift which means that when we die we go to heaven, but a gift which inspires us to serve as agents through whom God's heavenly Kingdom comes more and more fully to earth in the here and now.

Finally, we do well to comprehend that the first change grace brings is all gift.  Our only contribution (which in truth is also inspired and empowered by God) is to receive the gift.  However, at that point we become participants in the second, ongoing process of change.  This involves gratitude and love-inspired commitment to follow Jesus.  We cannot experience transformation without the power of the Holy Spirit of God, but it will not happen at all without our desire to participate in the process.

With You in His Service,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington

"Gratefully Growing Servants"