Summary: What if I told you that for you to suffer and be uncomfortable was an important part of God’s will for your life? The more that we avoid it, build barriers to protect ourselves from it and invent theology to condemn it the more we miss out on becoming us
1972: Former pastor of mine stood at airport waiting for an evangelist to arrive. It was Tuesday and the revival had begun the past Sunday morning. The evangelist had been too sick to make the trip but now was arriving. Two flight attendants helped him that the music evangelist and pastor Tom Elliff shared that the music evangelist had been doing his best but the crowds had gotten smaller and smaller and tonight in Tulsa bad weather was expected. Evangelist Manley Beasley responded, ‘We will probably just have in attendance those that God will use to bring change to your church’. SUFFERING STREAMLINES THE CHURCH
We love to be comfortable. Think of all the things that we continually invent that have to do with making life more comfortable for us.
What would you struggle to live without that others around the world regularly do without? Hot water? Nice comfortable bed? Washing machine? Television? Air conditioning? Closet full of clothes? Telephone? Cell phone? Computer? Internet? Car? IT IS POSITIVELY UNAMERICAN TO NOT BE COMFORTABLE! It is what distinguishes us from much of the rest of the world.
Of all of God’s children how near the top of those most ‘spoiled’ would be Christians in USA? What could we take away that would immediately diminish the size of our congregation this coming Sunday? Pads on our pews? Air conditioning/heating? Paved parking? Electricity
What if I told you that for you to suffer and be uncomfortable was an important part of God’s will for your life? The more that we avoid it, build barriers to protect ourselves from it and invent theology to condemn it the more we miss out on becoming usable to God.
Paul is writing to the church in Corinth and begins by telling them how important it is that they understand what suffering in the life of a Christian is all about.
Corinth had been destroyed in 146 B.C. by the Romans and had remained uninhabited for a hundred years, until 44 B.C. when Julius Caesar rebuilt it.
When Paul visited Corinth in A.D. 49–50, it was just over 80 years old with a population of 80k
Yet, during its short history Corinth had become the third most important city of the Roman Empire, behind Alexandria and Rome itself.
A growing metropolis situated on the isthmus river, it was called the “master of harbors.
Corinth became a favorite place for retired Roman soldiers to settle down seeking a better life for their families.
Corinth was also a place of ethnic diversity it was sort of a melting pot – people from all over the Asia wanted to settle there.
Corinth was a sports and entertainment center
The Isthmian games in Corinth (which were second only to the Olympics).
The city’s theater held up to 18,000 and the concert hall some 3,000.
Travel, tourism, sex, and religious Diversity were woven together in Corinth’s new culture. What happened in Corinth stayed in Corinth
So Corinth was the happening place at the time of Paul’s writings
There was actually 4 letters written by Paul to Corinth that we know of.
The 1st we don’t have; the 2nd was 1st Cor.; the 3rd we don’t have (7:7); & this letter was the 4th. 1st Cor. was Practical, 2ndCor. is Personal.
Purpose of this letter - to affirm his ministry, defend his authority as an apostle, refute false teachers. Key word – Comfort (29 x’s in 2 Cor.)
SUFFERING TEACHES US IMPORTANT LESSONS ABOUT GOD: 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
I want you to think about why God would want you to be uncomfortable.
C.S. Lewis writes about the difference between the BEACH and a MAP of the ocean. If all you want is to see the ocean then you can stand on a beach but if you want to go out into the ocean and truly experience where the ocean can take you then you will need to have a map. Many believers have a Christianity that is more about strolls on the beach than they are about discovering the depths and distances that God can take us to.
They prefer COMFORT to COMMITMENT and EASE to EDIFICATION. The want to RELAX in their pew rather than to RUN the good race.
1. GOD IS ALWAYS TO BE UNDERSTOOD AS DOING WHAT IS BEST FOR US: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
Professor Philip Taube was awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry. It was not Taube's ability to discover solutions to problems that set him apart, but rather his ability to ask the right questions. Avoiding wrong questions