Summary: Spiritual Power is a life changed for Jesus through presenting the Gospel. A spiritual Leader is someone who is willing to pay a personal price for his concern, his message, and his lifestyle as he bears the message of Jesus.
Any written statement carries certain dangers with it. It sets down a confirmed record and holds the writer to account. It can also be misinterpreted and misunderstood if the exact context of what was said and why it was said isn’t understood precisely.
E-mail heightens these dangers because it is so easy to communicate immediately, impulsively, without much thought or clarification. Once the send button is pressed – there is a finality which sometimes can be regretted seconds later as the implications seep through.
Recently I was working through some key decisions with a young youth leader I mentor. We’ve been meeting for years and have had all sorts of discussions in all sorts of contexts. Based on such an established relationship I fired off an e-mail summarising some strong thoughts.
A week later he horrified me with the news that he had showed the letter to his father in the context of discussing things with him. I wasn’t horrified at being found out or being held to account for my views but because I hadn’t clarified every statement and claim for the eyes of an outsider unaware of the context of our discussion every statement seemed suddenly to be a hand grenade of some sort of vilification.
As we read 2 Corinthians it seems that Paul is overjoyed and positive in his addressing of financial news in #9 and then almost immediately sinks back into a could of moody self defence in #10.
Just writing the words "the meekness and gentleness of Jesus" seems to bring immediately to the surface the personal hurt, infuriating anger against the mischief makers and exasperation with the congregation.
Right through the book and especially in these chapters you will see the biting sarcasm of Paul as he deals with his hurt and frustration. Once again he comes back to his bug bear of defending not only his own authority, credentials and ministry but ultimately the true nature of what makes Christian Ministry and Leadership.
Discerning between Godly and Satanic influences is key to every aspect of our Christian living. This is nicely appointed in the section of the passage we are looking at this morning which begins reminding us of the meekness and gentleness of Christ and ends with another reminder that Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. How do we pick between meekness and masquerade?
Along with Paul we’ll ask ourselves 2 questions this morning.
What does true Spiritual Power look like?
What does an Impressive Leader look like?
Not spiritual enough
One claim that seems to be levied against Paul was that he just wasn’t spiritual enough. (v2 - too worldly and weak in his personal dealings)
Don’t know about you but the quest for spiritual power was always in the back of my mind for many many years as a young Christian. As I read the exploits of the disciples and early Christians – the question was why aren’t these things happening in my life? How can I get them? As I read cutting edge authors and listened to cutting edge speakers there was always the promise that I could also experience the fruit of such spiritual power. This desire was at the same time curbed in me by the observation that bad things happened to many people I considered powerful Christian people and that there seemed no simple formula that covered all spiritual people or ministry.
I don’t see much of this question in Anglican circles here in Melbourne. If at all it seems to be couched in church growth terms. We seem to be more middle class, rational, comfortable and each sensibly making our own contribution. But these questions and the associated results, temptations and fallacies are constantly being asked, addressed and searched for by many our of our growing and large churches.
So what should we be looking for in spiritual power? Paul presents a particular picture of spiritual power through his own life
Based on the meekness and gentleness of Jesus
While coming across humble in face to face contact he is strong in his views and expectations (v1-2)
The result of his ministry is that lives are converted and changed dramatically, freed from the things that hold them back from God (v4-5)
He exercises considerable self control and is not scared to exercise control within the church as well (v5-6, 11 Ready to exercise authority and punishment for building up ultimately v7)
Spiritual power according to Paul is the life transforming message of Jesus – the Gospel. Though he has strongly held principles and values he seems to exercise them in humility and sensitivity while not being afraid to say the hard things and carry out disciplinary action. Fuelled by love he is willing to pay great personal cost to ensure that the Gospel message is heard and individual lives changed.