2 Corinthians 3:17-18, 4:5-18
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.13 But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
God I am so tired. I am mad at all the in fighting and division. I am angry at what I believe caused this. It’s so devastating to watch your Church destroy itself. The people you have given the gift of forgiveness, compassion and love. It is not because of one man but the sin inside us all that is causing all this…. But I AM angry at one man. I am angry that one man’s sin has caused others to sin along with him, misleading the flock and deceiving young believers. I am angry that my friends are fighting. I am angry that your character is lacking in us all. I am angry that I feel hurt by it all, and cant at times see through the cloud of confusion. I feel perplexed, beaten down, even persecuted. My heart aches for an unbroken world. A world not scarred by sin, not impacted by the Fall. This life is hard. I ache for you. Like a weary soul in need of water. You are my spring of life. At times this life is too much. Deaths, disease, corruption, brokenness, abuse… and yet your presence has not left your people. I stand amazed that you stay. We are a mess! You CHOSE to enter this mess with us, before we tried to ‘clean ourselves up’. You decided it was worth your very self, your other-ly-ness, your Kingship, to lay aside your honor for dishonor, your perfection for our sinfulness. To hold the corruption in your hands and say, “I will take all this. It is pardoned. You go home clean”.
Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.
I will forever stand amazed at that. You think all this is worth it?! I would have chosen long ago to escape the filth of it all. If anyone deserved to not endure the weight of sin and leave, you did, and yet you don’t. So why do I deserve escape when you have given me undeserved grace? And yet you are there to give me the answer. I get YOU. Through suffering, I have found you to be faithful. I have seen more of your glory and purpose. You have made through hardship my heart yours. I still long for the day when that work will be complete. When the sin in my heart will be banished for eternity and I am raised completely anew. But for now I need to trust your promises and your truth. You see the end that I don’t. I love that 2 Cor. 4 brings comfort in the call to an eternal perspective:
“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Why do we endure? For the sake of eternity. We live for the one who died. Who gave us good gifts, and called us to a purpose not our own. We live so that God’s glory (the goodness and person we have experienced and know) may be known to all men. We live so that in this fallen and hurting world, others might experience and see the grace and forgiveness that Christ laid out for them on the cross. To declare “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
God is doing his work in a broken world. He IS working out His eternal kingdom in the midst of the mess of our lives. And that is immense grace to us. Thank goodness! Cause you know what, I am still a mess. I haven’t stopped being in desperate need of God. And thank goodness, God has not stopped saving in the mess.
So as I look at the mess of the world – At the Church, at the culture, at broken bodies, and hardship – I look to Jesus who, although invisible, is redeeming and calling his people to himself.
Paul says “for we walk by faith and not by sight”. I walk forward believing that God is not done yet, and his grace is greater than this mess. What Jesus conquered on the cross (disease, death, my sin, Satan) will be completed when he returns. All will be made completely new!
He is not done yet.