Summary: Many times we as Christians live our lives in the dark. We think we are reasonably good people trying our best. But our past, our associations, the flesh, and the culture around us, conspire to blind us to many things that are not like the Lord going on i
The church today is in trouble. Two recent surveys show that church attendance, even among professing Christians, is way down. Many people today also feel that while they acknowledge faith in Jesus, also want a Burger King style religion—the “have it your way” mentality of spiritual potluck—pick a little from Jesus a little from Buddha, a little from nature-worship. While there are, as the experts say, multiple causalities for this behavior, I want to focus on something in particular: we have let the world’s values and methods infiltrate the church and thus have weakened the appeal to pre-Christians of a transformed life and have weakened the bonds of continued fellowship of believers by making the church in many ways indistinguishable from the world.
I believe that was what happened in Corinth. Corinth was a very “cool” city—hip and happening. Into that atmosphere came supposed “leaders” who looked, acted, and sounded like people who could be trusted, but their doctrine did not mirror the character of Jesus but of this age: external impressiveness, focus on power and position, a focus on monetary gain, and a lethargy when it came to the transformation of character that each disciple should experience in Jesus. That was because they didn’t represent Jesus at all, but Lucifer, whose chief aim is to emasculate the believer and make them unusable to the King to help spread the gospel.
What better way to do that than make the church look just like the world around it. Sadly, we see this today too in slick marketing, the promotion of relative truth, of attracting attenders instead of building disciples, and of abandoning anything that makes people feel uncomfortable. Now, those of you who know me know that I’m not advocating some legalistic return to a bunch of rules and regulations, but if there is no transformation of character going on—and if the people of God act just like the people of this age we have to ask the question: what’s missing? Let’s see how Paul addresses this as we finish chapter 12:
Paul shouldn’t have had to defend himself against the con-men preachers that had come into Corinth. They had tried to show how much better they were than Paul. He should have counted on the church he founded to defend him, but they didn’t. This drove Paul to have to “boast” about his credentials. Interestingly, he chose to boast about weakness and difficulty because it is then that real strength comes out—from reliance on Jesus Christ and His power. The “super apostles” boasted about their external strengths and impressiveness while inside they were filled with evil motives. Paul boasts about external weakness and internal power by the Holy Spirit toward new life in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul may have considered himself “nothing” but “nothing” in Christ is so much more than “everything” in this age.