(2 Corinthians 6:3-10)
Those of us who teach and preach the word of God need to listen very carefully to the words in this section of scripture.
Our work is ministry and ministering to the spiritual needs of those we come into contact with. Our work is to feed people with spiritual food so as to nourish and replenish the spirit’s of men and women, so that they do not starve and shrivel for lack of God’s sustenance.
We are stewards of God’s word and we need to use it to instruct, teach, encourage and help others so that they will grow to maturity in Jesus Christ. This is our mission, and these words today exemplify the extent and extremes of that mission. So you teachers out there, listen carefully and prayerfully.
You teachers and preachers, do you put obstacles in the way of the people you are teaching? Do you fill them with “churchiness” rather godliness?
There are so many things taught in the church today that have no basis in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it is the teachers, preachers, pastors and ministers who are failing. Look at the first few words of this section of scripture today.
“We put no obstacle in any one’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry” (2 Corinthians 6:3)
Jesus condemned the Pharisees because they were putting obstacles in the way of the people. He said,
“4 They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger. 5 They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, 6 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, 7 and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men.” (Matthew 23:4-7)
What were the heavy burdens they lay upon the people but would not lift a finger to move? Burdens of tradition. Burdens of rote. Burdens of false and deceptive teachings. And burdens of sin.
You teachers and preachers today have the power to set your people free from these same things, just as Moses set the people free from the slavery of Egypt, and Jesus set the people free from sin. Read what your bible says and throw out the dross of “churchiness” and instead be filled with the Holy Spirit who will teach you and lead you to God. And if you don’t know how…ask someone who does. Ask God through Jesus Christ who promised He will answer when we call Him.
Suffering as a Servant
Next we see how the servants of the Lord suffered in their day, and what we can expect as teachers and preachers of Jesus Christ.
Anybody who truly seeks God will know that the life of service in the Lord is not the pathway to a soft and easy life. Look at what the early disciples and Paul went through as they spread the gospel and taught the words of the Lord.
“4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, tumults, labors, watching, hunger” (2 Corinthians 6:4-5)
As partners in Jesus Christ, serving His people, we can expect to have to suffer sometimes. We will be brought to account, maligned, lied about and lied to, treated as lambs to be slaughtered, both metaphorically and in some cases, literally. It is a hard path to be a teacher and preacher in the name of Jesus Christ, especially in this day and age where more and more every day the forces of evil are aligning themselves against Christians everywhere.
Secularism, materialism, atheism, false religions and more are leading the world astray to things that are not of God. And in their practises they are trampling all that is good and right and true in Jesus Christ. They seek the death of the church and are passing lies teaching what is false, saying the church is out of touch, outdated and irrelevant in a modern world.
But they are wrong. Never has this world needed the truth of the church and the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ more than it does today. But we who teach and preach must expect to be knocked and buffeted as we spread the word.
And we see that the Lord has not left us without hope, because in Paul’s next breath he shows us how we overcome all of these forms of suffering. He shows us that, as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:13;
“…he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
When we are teaching and preaching the truth of the gospel, we receive the ability to withstand the evil attacks and assaults on our doctrine and our person. Paul writes that we overcome by the following processes and practises.
”6 by purity, knowledge, forbearance, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love, 7 truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute.”
By holding to these things as we speak and teach, we shall overcome, not through our strength, but by relying on the strength imbued in us by Jesus Christ. His power is the power that will sustain us in every situation and every crisis.
The Truth About Christianity
In the last verses of this section we see the truth about Christianity and why there even is a faultless ministry.
We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” (2 Corinthians 6:8-10)
Here is the truth. Here is the reality of Christianity. Here is the answer to all of those who say the church is in decline and getting ready to disappear at some time in the future. Indeed ALL of these things are happening today and we see them in news broadcasts, opinion pieces in newspapers, magazines and television, as well as in discussions on the Internet.
Christians are treated as impostors, as though we are faking it or just believing a fairy tale. And yet, we are NOT impostors but hold fast to a truth that is eternal and will never be proved false despite the efforts of those who oppose it.
We are considered as unknown, even not worth knowing about. But we Christians are well known for the word of the Lord has gone out everywhere and is available across the world. It will not be hidden because it cannot be hidden. The truth of Jesus Christ will not just set you free, it will stand above all lies as a shining beacon of hope for mankind.
As for the suggestion that the church is dying and that Christianity is weakening, this too is false. There have been surveys indicating that congregation numbers are falling and in decline. But there are also statistics showing an increase in independent churches, small groups and seeking faith-based information and resources on the Internet. The word of God is not in decline. But the delivery of the word and the mechanisms by which it is being delivered are changing with the times. Old style “churchiness” with it’s stuffy traditions, pomp, ceremony and pretentiousness are falling out of favour. But people who are seeking a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and the God of the Bible who can be known personally, not as a distant figure to be feared, is growing.
We Christians are suffering punishment today unlike at any other time in history. We are being berated, degraded, marginalised, ignored and hated by many. But Christianity will not be killed. The Pharisees thought they had killed Christianity when they put Jesus to death. They were wrong because God planned it that way and the disciples took on the mantle of spreading the good news. And so it has been ever since. Every time some great figure of Christianity has been removed by the enemies of God, God has brought up another to take their place.
And so too as the verse continues. We are not the way the world perceives us to be. We are not weak and able to be dismissed easily, for God’s will shall be done.
We do not appear today to have anything, but we have the greatest gift of all. We have Jesus Christ and in Him we have all the promises of God, even unto eternal life and inheritance of the world and all that is in it.
Christianity is a faultless ministry for it leads to perfection, just as God planned it. We are being perfected in Jesus Christ according to the direct plan and will of God. And there is nothing that the enemies of God and Jesus Christ can do to alter it. We are here to stay…they are not.
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