Summary: If only we’d recognize when we have strayed, get godly counsel, then seek for the unity of the body of Christ – that’s when we will see God’s love and peace flourish in our lives and in the church.
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Pastor Tom Fuller
There comes a time in every child’s life when patience on the parent’s part ends, and accountability on the child’s part begins. As we begin this morning I want to share a little bit of an irreverent story on parenting by Bill Cosby entitled: The First Parent.
“Whenever your kids are out of control, you can take comfort from the thought that even God’s omnipotence did not extend to his kids.
After creating Heaven and Earth, God created Adam and Eve. And the first thing He said to them was: "Don’t."
"Don’t what?", Adam replied.
"Don’t eat the forbidden fruit."
"Forbidden fruit? Really? Where is it?"
"It’s over there," said God, wondering why He hadn’t stopped after making the elephants.
A few minutes later God saw the kids having an apple break and He was angry.
"Didn’t I tell you not to eat that fruit?" the First Parent asked.
"Uh huh," Adam replied.
"Then why did you?"
"I dunno," Adam answered.
God’s punishment was that Adam and Eve should have children of their own.
Thus the pattern was set and it has never changed. But there is reassurance in this story.
If you have persistently and lovingly tried to give them wisdom and they haven’t taken it, don’t be hard on yourself.
If God had trouble handling children, what makes you think it would be a piece of cake for you?”
Of course we don’t endorse the theology of the story – but the sentiment is perhaps about how Paul the Apostle must have been feeling about now as he sees the church he birthed going off the deep end so readily. He’s about had it – and sometimes even though God is patient with us His children, there comes a time when patience ends, and accountability begins. That’s what we’re going to study today – examining ourselves, bringing a little accountability into our lives as we examine what we really believe. Let’s look at the last chapter, beginning in verse 1.
1 This will be my third visit to you. "Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses." 2 I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent:
The reference comes from Deuteronomy 19:15 and refers to finding out the truth in court – that you can’t rely on just one person’s say. Paul uses the fact he has already addressed this issue twice before in person and now again for the third time in his letter.
Do you ever foul up on something repeatedly? I know in my own life there are things that do wrong and I can’t seem to get it through my head – and there are times when I hear a verse or a teaching and it just hits me square in the head – God reminding me again.
It does seem that the more we resist, the harsher the reminders have to get. We as parents experience this a lot: “Do I have to tell you again not to write with a felt pen on the walls?” Kids, especially little ones, seem to thrive on doing exactly the opposite of what we tell them. I think it’s in part due to our stubborn nature of independence.
When we grow up, of course, we no longer have that stubborn streak.
When it comes to the children of God, they too were stubborn. As Moses was giving the law to the Israelites, knowing their stubbornness said this:
Lev 26:18-20 "’If after all this you will not listen to me, I will punish you for your sins seven times over. 19 I will break down your stubborn pride and make the sky above you like iron and the ground beneath you like bronze. 20 Your strength will be spent in vain, because your soil will not yield its crops, nor will the trees of the land yield their fruit.
God had to have some way to get their attention because they weren’t listening. That happens to us too – now God isn’t going to make our gardens fail, necessarily, but He has other ways of making Himself heard – unanswered prayer, times of dryness in our relationship, that habit of everything we hear having something to do with what He’s dealing with us on …
Here Paul is saying: you guys haven’t been listening, “don’t make me come in there!”
On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others, 3 since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me.
I like how The Message renders this: 2 Corinthians 13:2-3
If you haven’t changed your ways by the time I get there, look out. 3 You who have been demanding proof that Christ speaks through me will get more than you bargained for. You’ll get the full force of Christ, don’t think you won’t.