Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Good morning friends. Our opening verses were extracted from Paul’s second letter to his friends in Corinth. In these verses, he toys with the concept of present and future self, with a view to encourage his audience to be faithful to their new found faith amidst pressure from popular culture, and persecution. Like today, these new converts were suddenly faced with their; old life, new life and future life, each one demanding enormous amount of resources from their being. They were experiencing fluctuating waves of spiritual and emotional signals; for a season they might be operating with their new supernatural gifts, then without any warning they find themselves switching back to doing the same old things they did in their pre-regenerated state.
Does this sound familiar? If it does, do not despair dear friend, you are in good company. The same writer continued his fight with this beast as he tried to make sense of it all in a letter he later wrote to his friends in Rome:
For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
Wow… What is he saying? Most mentors are not likely to be this open with their audience, especially spiritual mentors. But Paul had reached a point in his growth were he was dying to his ego. His life experiences and relationship with God had brought him to a point were his love and empathy for his friends was experiencing an increased measure, thereby enabling him to better understand their challenges.
Unlike Paul, most of these Christians didn’t have a Jewish heritage. Even those with such heritage had lost it through integration and secularisation, also they were not privileged to have had the theological training he got from Gamaliel. They were learning again, and still trying to make sense of it all. This process was even more challenging with the intervention of Jewish teachers that had a different concept of how these “hybrids” should be living their Christian life. Should they keep the law? Should they be circumcised? Should they tithe? Should they keep the sabbath? Should they observe the feast? And on, and on, and on…
In my humble opinion, not so far from the questions Christianity faces in the 21st century. But in-spite of it all, I draw strength from a statement Jesus made when Peter identified Him as the Christ, the son of the living God, after he asked the famous question; “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” In quick succession, Jesus replied with these words:
Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
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