2 Corinthians 4

This devotional is written by Phil Hoyle.

2 Corinthians 4

Present weakness and resurrection life
Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ.

7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

13 It is written: 'I believed; therefore I have spoken.' Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.


What does it look like to be a follower of Jesus?

There’s a few denominations of Christianity nowadays that preach that we should be living in abundant success, overflowing with wealth, and ecstatically happy most of the time, otherwise God must not be ‘blessing’ us.

In a similar way, the Church in Corinth at the time this passage was written had the idea that the apostle Paul didn’t look quite like someone who would be called by God to share the good news.

After all, Paul had been beaten, arrested, shipwrecked, persecuted by both gentiles and Jews.

He seemed to be pretty unblessed for someone who God was entrusting with spreading his world changing kingdom.

In this chapter, therefore, Paul lays out what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus - warts and all.

Firstly, he writes that all followers of Jesus have been given the task, or ministry as he calls it, of making Jesus known to the world.

And Paul is really clear that we should do that truthfully, honestly, and authentically.

We’re not to hide from the good news, or change the good news.

We’re to speak it out plainly and honestly, not promoting ourselves in place of the good news.

(Some of the preachers around today seem to like selfies and celebrity endorsements a little too much, if you know what I mean.)

Paul writes that, instead of promoting ourselves, followers of Jesus promote Jesus -

In fact, the phrase Paul uses the good news in this chapter is ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’ - by which he means - ‘The man Jesus is God’s promised king of the whole world, and is also God himself.’

So if we are promoting Jesus, honestly, authentically, and openly - what can we expect?

Paul says that it will still be a tough job, because it’s not what the world wants to hear. He refers to the fact that ‘the god of this age’ - by which he means the satan, the opposer of God, has blinded people to the truth.

But, importantly, he says we shouldn’t be surprised that it’s tough for us - because Jesus, who is both king and God - is not only the resurrected, but also the crucified.  The dying God - the suffering God. The loser God.

Suffering and being a loser are bound up in the truth of the gospel.

Paul puts it beautifully when he says that ‘we have this treasure in jars of clay’ - There need not be anything  to be particularly impressed about when people look at us, but what should shine through that is the truth of Jesus, his love, and his message of hope.

In fact, the very fact that ordinary, suffering, struggling people carry this hope, carry this love, is a testament to the fact that this love is all the more powerful, that this hope is all the more true.

May we know that in sharing the good news honestly, authentically, and openly - as ourselves, warts and all - we make that light all the more bright.

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