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Summary: Serving the Lord as individuals and as a collective church has its challenges, stresses, and frustrations, but God calls us to march on.

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Marching On!

2 Corinthians 2:12-17

• All religious groups have conflicts; when people have to work closely together, personality and experiences lead us in different direcions. Modnern Jews have them, too. They often rely on tradition to settle matters. This joke makes the point:

During a service at an old synagogue in Eastern Europe, when the

Shema prayer was said, half the congregants stood up and half remained

sitting. The half that was seated started yelling at those standing to

sit down, and the ones standing yelled at the ones sitting to stand up.

The rabbi, learned as he was in the Law and commentaries, didn't know

what to do. His congregation suggested that he consult a housebound

ninety-eight- year-old man, who was one of the original founders of

their synagogue. The rabbi hoped the elderly man would be able to tell him

what the actual synagogue tradition was. So the rabbi went to the

nursing home with a representative of each faction of the congregation.

The one whose followers stood during the Shema said to the old man, "Is

the tradition to stand during this prayer?" The old man answered "No,

that is not the tradition." The one whose followers sat said, "Then the

tradition is to sit during the Shema!" The old man answered "No, that

is not the tradition." Then the rabbi said to the old man "But the

congregants fight all the time, yelling at each other about whether they

should sit or stand."

The old man interrupted, exclaiming "THAT'S the tradition!"

Main Idea: Serving the Lord as individuals and as a collective church has its challenges, stresses, and frustrations, but God calls us to march on.

I. Conflict Interferes with OUTREACH, But We Still Address It (12-13)

Some people think it odd that churches have conflicts.

• Ballroom Dance Club wanted to organize the music Marylu and I smiled.

• Conflict gridlocks a church & neutralizes its ministry: it makes us loop

A. Paul was having a SUCCESSFUL ministry at Troas (12)

• The problems in the Corinthian church were absurd, but still very much problems

• man committing incest? Nerve to take on Paul the Apostle?

• Paul should not have to expend energy to deal with these. But he did.

B. His WORRY about the Corinthians preoccupied him (13a)

• Holy worry is a function of love and responsibility; “no rest”

C. He could not take the SUSPENSE of not knowing (13b)

• So he went to Macedonia to find Titus and hear a report about Corinth

D. What should occupy most of our attention: conflict or EVANGELISM?

• Last week we saw that Paul set criteria before he would make a return visit

• united churches are important infrastructure in the Kingdom of God

• Illustration: America’s economic health is partly dependent upon infrastructure: speedy roads, bridges, trains, electrical capacity, usable water, high speed internet, trained or skilled workers, etc.

• Healthy churches are foundational to getting God’s work done: they support the missionaries, they impact their communities, they connect to others…

Serving the Lord as individuals and as a collective church has its challenges, stresses, and frustrations, but God calls us to march on.

II. Our Faith Comes At A PRICE, But We Pay It (14-16a)

• What is a triumphal procession? What was involved?

A. I Corinthians 4:9 INTERPRETS this for us

“For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men.”

B. The Apostles were doomed to death to share the message of life with US

1. Fragrance of LIFE

2. Fragrance of DEATH

C. Do you VALUE the preciousness of Bible-based faith?

Here is one of many recent articles available from persecution.com:

Muslim extremists carried out new attacks on villages in Nigeria’s Plateau state in September, killing more than 100 Christians, including entire families, according to Compass Direct News.

On Sept. 10, 2011, Muslim extremists stormed Vwang Fwil village at 3 a.m., killing 13 Christians. Attackers killed 14 more Christians, including one pregnant woman, when they attacked the Christian community of Vwang Kogot on Sept. 9. And on Sept. 8, 10 Christians from one family were killed in an attack on Tsohom Foron village.

Serving the Lord as individuals and as a collective church has its challenges, stresses, and frustrations, but God calls us to march on.

III. Our Leaders Are INADEQUATE, But We Respect Them (16b-17)

A. Sense of INSUFFICIENCY (16b)

The skill set required for ministry are beyond any individual, which is why we need the Body. But God’s specially called leaders are to lead, inadequate as they may be.

Serving an infinite God and building an eternal kingdom of perfect holiness is amazingly tough for a finite, mortal, man who is still a sinner. It is the Holy Spirit, we shall see, who can take us beyond our own ability.

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