Summary: Focus on Christ and not ourselves
It’s about Jesus
2 Corinthians 4 verses 1-6
It would appear that today being a celebrity is actually a job. There are people who appear on the front pages of magazines and the gossip columns of newspapers and there only contribution to society is some sort of celebrity status. Today, more than ever, we are surrounded by a culture which is totally selfish and self-absorbed. Such pre-occupation with ‘self’ has even entered the Christian church. I recently came across a Max Lucado book which was called ‘It’s not about me.’ I was struck by the title. How far have Christians drifted from a focus on Christ Jesus to a focus on themselves that a Christian writer feels compelled to write a book with such a title. So this morning as we begin a new sermon series which over the next number of weeks will address basic Christian discipleship I want us to know what our focus is all about at Holy Trinity.
Let me ask you a question – What is the aim of Holy Trinity? That is right it is ‘A Bible in their hands, a Saviour in their heart, a Purpose in their lives.’ Now let me ask you a second question – Is that just a poster on our wall or is it the aim of our hearts as individuals and collectively? Turn with me to 2 Corinthians chapter 4 verses 1-6.
As you are fining the passage let me set the context of this letter for you. Paul has written to the believers at Corinth because he has changed his itinerary. He had planned to make two short visits to Corinth but had changed that to one longer visit. Some false teachers had come into the church and were saying that Paul’s word could not be trusted, that he was not truly and apostle, that he was using trickery to deceive the believers and also that the money they were collecting for the persecuted church at Jerusalem was actually going into Paul’s own pocket. So in preparation for his coming visit and to counter such lies Paul writes this second letter to them. Paul’s personal authority and integrity has been challenged by this false teachers and at the end of the letter he assures them of the certainty of his visit and warns them that he will not fear disciplining those who have wandered from the truth of the gospel of Christ. So that is the context behind the letter of 2 Corinthians.
More immediately the context of this passage if you look at chapter 3 verses 7-18, is that Paul has been comparing and contrasting the glory of the OT Covenant, which was transitory with that of the NT Covenant, which is eternal. He further points out that the OT Covenant revealed their sin and brought condemnation and yet it was glorious, whereas the NT Covenant (in Christ) brings them freedom – see verse 17. Over the next number of weeks we are going to come, I hope and pray, to a deeper understanding and realisation of what that verse, and in particular ‘freedom in Christ’, actually means for us and in our lives. Paul concludes in verse 18 that the outcome of this glorious new freedom brought about by the New Covenant in Chris is that we (sinners under condemnation of the Law) are transformed into the likeness of Christ.
Verse 1 –Don’t lose heart
It is very easy to lose heart as a Christian leader. Here Paul gives the answer to such failure of heart – remember who called you. Let me say to all the leaders here this morning – in whatever capacity you lead at Holy Trinity – when those times of doubt and depression come, and they will, then recall these words of Paul – it is because your calling into faith and into service is of God, of divine appointment that you should not lose heart. Humanly there was every reason for Paul to lose heart – he was many miles away from Corinth, he was being attacked personally and was unable to answer his critics in person. His ministry was denied, his personal integrity questioned and from a distance he could see newborn Christians being led astray by false teachers. But what about each of you this morning? Do you find times when you lose heart with the Christian gospel? You look around you, maybe even within your own family, and children are going astray – walking away from the faith in which they had been brought up. Youth leaders – years of hard work seem to bear little or no fruit in the lives of young people. As an individual you strive with all your heart to follow Christ but you seem, like Paul, to have your personal integrity questioned and to have everything you worked for dismantled by the lies of others. It’s easy to lose heart in the light of such things. But at that moment, many miles from Corinth, under attack both physical and spiritual, Paul reminds himself and his readers that his calling (and theirs) to witness to the gospel was by divine appointment and not human choice. If you hear nothing else this morning hear that – your calling into a living relationship with God through Christ, and your call to witness and service hear at Holy Trinity was and is a call on your life by God Almighty – therefore do not lose heart.