Going Deeper 07.01.2021

The second reading for Pentecost 6... 2 Corinthians 12:2-10
I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat. On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me, even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

This is, I believe, a quite significant passage, one which provides us with a picture of what a follower of Christ might experience, and what a follower of Christ looks like.  

Some see following Jesus as being as escape from reality, an effort to avoid "the real world."  Some picture the life of a child of God as being nothing but "happy, happy; joy, joy."  Weakness and struggles are pointed to as evidence of weak faith... perhaps even a lack of faith, while pain and suffering are seen as being punishment from God.  Paul obviously experienced and taught otherwise.

In a similar way, others seek to portray themselves as "Super Christian."  (Yes, pastors can easily go this direction... sometimes they feel forced to perform according to such a stereotype.)  Then along comes Pastor Paul, pointing to-- even 'boasting' in-- his weakness and suffering.  Elsewhere in this second letter to the church in Corinth Paul even attacks the so-called "super apostles."

The fact is, even the wisest among us falls very short of fully comprehending God and His ways.  Even the most moral among us must recognize that even with our good works we fall far short of perfection.  Even those of the strongest 'faith' still have a long way to go.  And our awareness of all of this works together for good, for our Lord assures us:  “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” 

‚ÄčThis is why I love the description of mission given by Lutheran theologian Martin Mary: It is about one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.

With You in His Grace

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington

"Gratefully Growing Servants"