Browsing articles tagged with " 2 Corinthians"
Oct 31, 2016

Reconciliation – The Love of Christ Compels Us

Are you in Christ? Do you want to be in Christ?
You are and it does not matter if you want that!
Paul informed the Corinthians and by extension us: “Everything old has passed away; see everything has become new!”
Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our death and resurrection are in God’s past!
We are in Christ not because we choose that or want that but because in Christ the whole world is a new creation.
Paul does not speak about an individual soul. Paul speaks about the whole cosmos: All times and all places are in Christ.
There is nothing and nobody that is not in Christ.

When Paul says Christ, Paul means Christ! This is not about people professing their faith. This is not about people joining a church. This is not at all about what people do. Reconciliation is an act of God. It may or may not show in a person’s life here on Earth. Again: Paul speaks about the whole cosmos: All times and places are in Christ. It does not matter for a person’s relationship with God whether they come to Jesus in this life. They are in Christ anyway, just because the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are big enough to blanket-cover all persons of all walks of life, no matter their faith or lack of faith. You don’t have to be a good Christian in order to be reconciled to God. God does the reconciling no matter what.

This is what this day is all about. Today we combine two observations: All Saints Day and Reformation Day. And Jesus Christ is where they come together: Martin Luther started the Reformation based on his discoveries that that we are pardoned sinners and God’s grace is indeed free. And All Saints Day is when the church remembers that all God’s children – living or dead – are in God’s hands.

Now let that one sink in: Paul goes even further and states: “God does not count their trespasses against them”. The free grace that God gives to the living and the dead applies to your friends and loved ones who are already dead: You may unearth the most horrific stories about your ancestors: God’s love is stronger than their sin. God will not count their sins against them because in Christ reconciliation has already happened. Again: Everything is done, taken care off. All sins are forgiven we owe God nothing, God owes us nothing. We’re even. All is well.

There is a problem though: Not everybody knows that. Maybe everybody has heard the message of free grace by now. Maybe everybody has some sort of hope for their deceased friends and relatives. But actually finding the peace in your heart that only full reconciliation brings is elusive. We forget. And doubt creeps in: “But God can’t be that good. But I messed up really bad.” Well, that’s where we come in. That’s what the church does. Each and everyone of us is an ambassador for Christ.

Even though this world is reconciled with God, we are not reconciled with one another. As ambassadors for Christ we have the ministry of reconciliation. That means we need to model and teach reconciliation: Now, how do you do that?
See yourself as reconciled with God.
See everyone as reconciled with God.
Act as if God were okay with you.
Act as if you were okay with yourself.
Act as if God were okay with everybody.
Act as if you were okay with everybody.

Those things are hard to do. On one hand we need to remind ourselves of God’s free grace and then we need to model what reconciliation looks like for the world. Looking at my own soul is not enough. Looking at the souls of my family and friends is not enough. As ambassadors of Christ our ministry does not stop at individual souls. One soul may be a starting point but the goal is to model and teach reconciliation to the whole cosmos. As ambassadors of Christ our job is to bring reconciliation
between Democrats and Republicans after the election,
between police and the communities they serve,
between black and white,
between gay and straight,
between men and women,
and between those who are not easily defined along those binaries.
Now, how do you do that?

The magic formula is to not compare your strengths with their weakness. Everyone can take what they are best at and compare it to another person’s weak spot. Now when groups, parties, ethnicities start doing that, reconciliation goes out the window. We need to remind them that we are all made new. We need to regard no one from a human point of view because the separations and distinctions of this world are fleeting and don’t count with God. It’s so easy to make others look bad. The challenge of reconciliation is to accept that God is okay with everybody.

There is another problem though:
The hardest part is to accept that God is okay with me.
I keep messing up.
I keep beating myself up.
But God doesn’t seem to get it because God keeps telling me I am okay.
I cannot forgive myself and keep hurting myself and those most dear to my heart.
But God doesn’t seem to get it because God keeps telling me I am okay.

I cannot believe that.
The only way I can stop hurting myself and those most dear to my heart is to believe that I am okay.
I must change!
I must be okay!
I can’t do that on my own accord.
God does that. It is the love of Christ that compels us.

Reconciliation takes a changed perspective and maybe it’s minimal.
God offers reconciliation no matter what. So the message of All Saints Day and Reformation Day is in a nutshell:

A photo posted by Daniel Haas (@revhaas) on


Amen.

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Mar 5, 2011

2 Corinthians 1:1-11

Today’s Reading is 2 Corinthians 1:1-11. This time for real.

Enter the Bible has a very helpful introduction:

Paul begins this letter by blessing God. Such blessing is a common Jewish form of prayer. In this prayer, Paul gives thanks for God’s mercy and consolation. Suffering is also a theme as the letter opens.

So What?
Second Corinthians offers a real-life window on a strained relationship between a church leader and the people whom he loves. In this letter, we see an anxious apostle hoping to restore the relationship he had with churches he founded, even as he tries to avoid being drawn into a contest with other teachers over who has the most impressive skills and credentials. To do this, he discloses much about his own devotion to the Corinthians, his hardships in ministry, and the reconciliation God has accomplished for them all in Christ.

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Feb 19, 2011

2 Corinthians 13:1-13

Yesterday’s Reading was 2 Corinthians 13:1-13.

In it Paul asks the Corinthians to “Greet one another with the kiss of peace.”
Presently, the greeting is not normally shared as a kiss in English-speaking cultures, but by shaking hands or performing some other greeting gesture (such as an embrace) more in tune with the culture and time.


Today would be Romanian-born sculptor Constantin Brancusi’s 135th birthday, and the Google logo celebrates his most famous works. His best known piece is the Kiss depicted as Google’s E.

The Kiss of peace is in full liturgical use with the Orthodox Churches and Roman Catholics. The French have their own secular version of it, as do many Mediterranean cultures:

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Feb 16, 2011

2 Corinthians 9:1-15

Today’s Reading is 2 Corinthians 9:1-15.
Paul continues to encourage the Corinthians to give generously to the collection for the followers in Jerusalem.
Verses 7-8 pretty much tell them what motivates giving: It benefits both the giver and the receiver. Steven Levitt writes for Freakonomics why “after a tragedy like the earthquake in Haiti, many people are moved to make financial contributions. For some people, as my friend and colleague John List’s work has made clear, it is simply the “warm glow” that one feels from giving, or a sense of duty borne out of social pressure, that drives giving. For others, actually making a difference in the lives of Haitians is paramount – the impact of the contribution matters.”

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Feb 15, 2011

2 Corinthians 8:1-24

Today’s Reading is 2 Corinthians 8:1-24. Paul sends a fund-raising message to the church in Corinth reminding them of the generous contributions of the people of Macedonia. Financial stewardship is a spiritual practice and every generation has to find their own reasons for giving to the church:
UCC stewardship

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