March 10, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Susanna Lee, Gracepoint Davis

2 Corinthians 11:16–29

This description of his life would become the measure of every subsequent generation of Christians who received the gospel through Apostle Paul’s life of obedience, intensity and love.  What are some pictures, expectations, and norms of Christian life today that Apostle Paul’s life challenges and corrects?  Or, to put in another way, what criticisms might contemporary Christians have toward someone who, today, pursued a similar life of zeal, sacrifice and suffering in ministering to others?

Apostle Paul’s Life Pictures, expectations & norms of Christian life today that Apostle Paul challenges & corrects:
Embraced suffering (physical, emotional, mental & spiritual suffering) as Christ did Repelling or shielding from suffering that comes with the work of the Gospel; limiting oneself to an artificial  “safe” Christian walk or the “suburban” Christian life; categorizing Christian life for the “really committed” and the “normal” Christian life when there is only one kind of Christian life–total commitment.
Expected hardships & trials as a minister of the Gospel Surprised by hardships & trials which often result in bitterness and anger towards God and towards those who cause trouble in our lives
Gave up any semblance of personal rights Having a sense of entitlement that God owes us something when we serve Him:  Examples include protection from accidents, good health, getting a good job, getting into a good school, people being responsive to us when we reach out to them, ministry growing if we faithfully serve God, etc.
A completely surrendered life to God; a life of complete obedience Holding back an area of one’s life from God assuming that one has given enough to God; setting our own standard of surrendered life contrary from the standard of the cross; giving left-overs to God only after using up most of one’s time, money and other resources for work, nuclear family, personal desires, etc.; seeing obedience as an option in Christian life
A life that has been crucified with Christ:  singled-minded life purpose and goal to serve God only Unwillingness to die to the self despite giving lip service to God:  having a tight clutch on one’s ambition, comfort, self-centered desires, privacy, schedule, etc.
A heart that was totally consumed with people’s spiritual welfare a heart that was broken by people’s sins Preserving or shielding one’s heart from getting hurt by others; unwillingness to have one’s heart broken by someone’s sin issues; occupying our hearts with lesser things of life (e.g.  personal dreams/fantasies, personal wants, personal drama)

2 Corinthians 11:23-29

In the midst of all his troubles, Apostle Paul says “beside everything else,” he faces “daily pressure.”  What was the source of his “daily pressure”?  The source of his “daily pressure” was his concern and care as the shepherd over his flock.  He was aware of the sin issues, false teachings, divisiveness, worldliness, and other heart-breaking issues that the young churches which he had planted were struggling with.  He could not be there in person to help them through each of these struggles.  He often had to rely on his messengers or letters.  Apostle Paul was like a mother who gave birth to many children, and he was consumed with care and concern for their spiritual welfare and health of the churches.  He took complete ownership over these churches, even when he was not there.  It would be understandable for Apostle Paul to have “out of sight, out of mind” mentality as he had many churches to look after.  But because Apostle Paul was also a man of fervent prayers, he wrestled with these issues in his prayer life when he was absent from them.  Plus, he had deep affection and longing for the members.  He loved them deeply.

What might be the relationship between Apostle Paul’s amazing ability to endure hardships and what he says in vv. 28-29?  The relationship might be Apostle Paul’s intense love and concern for the members of the churches that he is able to endure hardships.  His life is motivated by the desire for the Gospel to be spread and for the Gospel to impact and penetrate every person who receives it.  His highest hope is for everyone to live a life that testifies a life crucified with Christ.  Apostle Paul took his role as their spiritual father/leader with all seriousness.  Apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 4:15-16 “15 Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me”  and in 1 Corinthians 1:1  “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”  To Apostle Paul, unless he exemplified the character and life of Jesus in his own life he had not fulfilled his role as their spiritual father/leader.


Submitted by Jay Park, Gracepoint Davis

2 Corinthians 11:16–29

This description of his life would become the measure of every subsequent generation of Christians who received the gospel through Apostle Paul’s life of obedience, intensity and love.  What are some pictures, expectations, and norms of Christian life today that Apostle Paul’s life challenges and corrects?  Or, to put in another way, what criticisms might contemporary Christians have toward someone who, today, pursued a similar life of zeal, sacrifice and suffering in ministering to others?

Paul’s life really paints a picture of how Christians should be and continues to serve as a model for the Christians to emulate.  He worked hard for the Lord, was flogged, beaten, stoned and been in prison frequently for preaching the Gospel, constantly faced dangers, labored and toiled and often gone without sleep, had gone without food and clothes.  On top of all this, he experienced the daily pressure of worrying about all the churches.  He dealt with people’s sins and really empathized with people and loved them.

Paul’s life certainly challenges the Christians today who might have a consumerism approach to church, choosing a church that would give them the “best bang for the buck.”  They would look for the one that has the most rocking praise music, a good preacher with moving messages, a good facility, good food/fellowship, or even perhaps opportunity for them to shine with whatever talents they have.  As soon as they feel uncomfortable, however, because the pastor or any spiritual leader challenges people directly about certain lifestyle that is unbiblical or their character issues that make them feel uneasy, they would start looking for another church. Basically, “whichever church that benefits me the most without making me feel uncomfortable….”  Paul’s life really serves to correct the mentality of such “Christians” who just want to simply receive as spectators, because Paul’s life was anything but these things.  Christian life is supposed to be about giving of himself completely, surrendering of his will, agendas, self-driven purposes, to love others and make Christ known, together with the church.  It ought to involve hard work, sacrifices and suffering love, even facing persecution (as Jesus promised to those who follow Him).  To settle for anything less than this is completely unbiblical.

When I first came to Gracepoint back in 1993, I didn’t have the right picture of what it means to be a Christian, since although I was churched all my life, I was very ignorant of the Bible.  I saw that the leaders at Gracepoint were actually living out the Bible and heralded the life of Apostle Paul as a model to emulate. I knew that my life wasn’t even close to Paul’s life, let alone my leaders.  I knew that there was a great contrast between my life and their lives and came to see how much I fell short of being a follower of Christ.  Over time, I became more convicted of my extremely shallow understanding of Christianity and my need to surrender my life to follow Christ properly.  Although I still fall short of living out my Christian life like Paul, at least I know the standard against which I need to check my life.  Some people say that our church is too much in terms of our busyness with ministry and too strict in regards to striving for holiness.  However, when we look at Paul’s life, we still have a long way to go.   Wanting to live a comfortable Christian life is an oxymoron, and I’m so thankful to be part of an active church that never wants to settle for such unbiblical mindset and attitude towards following Christ.

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