Summary: Paul commands the Corinthians to aim for perfection, unity, and peace in the church.
AIMING LIKE PAUL
I. The Aim of Perfection
One of the first aims that the Apostle Paul commands the Corinthians to shoot for is perfection. Paul says in verse 11, "aim for perfection." The command is one that speaks to the Corinthian Church as well as to our own. What is Paul saying to us? One of the first things we must discover is what Paul means by ‘perfection.’ The word ‘perfect’ in the orginal language as Paul used it was a very specific and descriptive word. In fact, it is the same word used in Matthew 4:21 when it says, "Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets." The ‘perfection’ in 2 Corinthians is the same word as ‘preparing’ in Matthew 4:21. The sense that we get is that Paul wants the Corinthians to prepare themselves fully when it comes to their Christian character.
The relationship that Paul has with the Corinthian Church is a rocky and rough one. The church was struggling in some areas and were asking Paul questions about some of those areas. This prompted Paul to write the letter of 1 Corinthians and talk about areas of sin in the church (chapter 5 and 6), personal relationships (chapter 7), the Lord’s Supper (chapter 11), spiritual gifts (chapter 12), and the worship service (chapter 14). They did not like all that they heard from Paul. Paul also refers to others letters that he wrote the church and that atleast one visit he had with the church was a painful one (2 Corinthians 2:1). It is in the midst of this painful and rocky relationship that Paul makes this command to "aim for perfection."
The Apostle Paul wants the best for the Corinthians and even tells them this at the beginning of his letter (2:4), "For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you." Paul loved these people and wanted the best for them. He wanted them to be spiritually prepared for the witness that they would be in their city. He wanted them prepared. He wanted them perfected.
ILLUSTRATION... The Pony Express (http://www.bible.org/illus.asp?topic_id=1159)
When it comes to being on the alert and ready at any moment to do the job, it was hard to beat the Pony Express. This historically famous mail service between St. Joseph, Missouri, and California depended on constant movement and readiness. Relay stations were established every ten to fifteen miles. A rider would shout aloud as he approached a station, giving the station master very short notice that he needed to be outside waiting with a fresh mount. Even when a rider came to the station where he was to spend the night, another rider was already mounted and waiting, ready to grab the first rider’s bundle of packages and continue the trip. The completion of the transcontinental telegraph system rendered the Pony Express obsolete after just eighteen months. But we have this service’s intriguing example of what it means to be ever watchful,.
Paul is asking and commanding the Corinthians to be watchful and vigilant in their church that they would be totally prepared and become perfected in some areas. The second thing we must discover is what areas had Paul written about in 2 Corinthians and in what areas he had wanted them to prepare. What does Paul write about?
* Paul writes about forgiving one another and restoring relationships in chapter 2
* Paul writes about living by faith in chapters 4 and 5
* Paul writes about being generous and giving in chapter 8
I think that all three of these areas are wonderful areas to prepare and perfect for any church. Paul wanted the Corinthians to have good relationships with each other and to have relationships in which they forgave each other and restored each other. Church is to be a place of healing relationships and we need to prepare our church to be such a place. Paul wanted the Corinthians to live by faith and not to allow the world around them to overcome them, but to be renewed day by day by their faith. Church is to be a place where our spiritual batteries are recharged so we can conquer the sin of the world and not fall victim to it. Paul also wanted the Corinthians to be generous in their giving so that the work ofJesus Christ would expand. Church should be a place where the most generous and giving and helpful people on the planet can be found... this is an area we always should strive in.