September 11, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (2 Corinthians 6)

Submitted by Helen P. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

2 Corinthians 6:11-13

·       Reflect on vv. 11-13 in light of Paul’s hardships.  What is behind Paul’s willingness to open wide his heart and not “restrict [his] affections” toward the Corinthians who were critical of him?

Paul’s heart was totally for the Corinthians.  His love for them enabled him to speak freely to them, not holding anything back, whether it be tears of anguish, sorrow, teachings, exhortations, corrections, rebukes, etc.  There was no reserve on his part.  In order for the Corinthians to know God and to understand His love for them, Paul allowed his heart to be fully exposed, totally laid bare to the Corinthians.  Seeing all the ways that Paul suffered in order for Christ to be preached, I was taken aback by what lengths he went through for the Corinthians to know God.  For Paul, finding God was the most amazing thing that happened in his life.  This treasure is what he wanted to share with the Corinthians, his children in the faith. When I think about what may be behind Paul’s willingness to open wide his heart and not “restrict [his] affections” toward the Corinthians, it’s genuine love.  Because of love for the Corinthians, Paul was able to endure the kind of suffering he did.  Because of love he anguished with tears, because of love he endured afflictions, because of love he went through hardships, beatings, imprisonments, sleepless nights…so that the Corinthians would know the day of salvation.  That was Paul’s greatest hope and desire for his children in the faith. When I think about my kids and my personal love for them, I am able to understand the kind of love that Paul had for the Corinthians, that despite the criticism and hard time the Corinthians gave to Paul, that did not stop Paul from expressing his affections and making himself vulnerable before them.  Even though the Corinthians didn’t all respond the way that he had hoped, that didn’t stop Paul from pouring out his heart and delivering to them what he thought was the very best.

2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1

·       This passage has been understood to apply most directly to marriage.  Why does it make sense for the Bible to oppose a marriage between a believer and an unbeliever?

It makes sense for the Bible to oppose a marriage between a believer and an unbeliever because the desires and principles for these respective people clash and cannot be combined.  If you are a believer, you must follow Christ, his values, his commands and teachings in the Bible.  But if you are an unbeliever, there is no such obligation or expectation.  Undoubtedly, when an unbeliever and believer gets married, there are basic things that are not going to be compatible; they were not meant to be brought together.  When you get married, you’re committing to the other person for life, it’s two people united to become one. As a believer, you’re striving to live a life pleasing to God, committing to a life of sanctification and holiness; the unbeliever does not have such a goal for their life.  They are basically free to live as they choose, indulging and pleasing the flesh, fulfilling their own agendas and appetites, without consideration of God.  It is impossible for the two to walk in step with one another.

·       What is the first implication of accepting our identity as “the temple of God?”

The first implication of accepting our identity as “the temple of God” is that we keep the ‘temple’ uncorrupted, undefiled.  I am the temple of God, and as I embrace this identity, I strive to maintain purity and holiness, to be mindful of things that are going to taint this temple and to ward off those things from entering and defiling the body.

·       What does the word “temple” suggest in terms of Christian engagement with the world?

Being holy, set apart, unspotted from the world.  We, as Christians may bein the world, but we must not be of the world.  The world has such strong influence over the way we think, behave, having influence over the kinds of things we choose to buy, eat, and wear.  When I think about the image of a temple in a world that is corrupted by the dark, oppressive and nowadays sensual powers of the world, it stands out. The temple is the place of refuge and safety, a place that is unadulterated by the world and that attracts those who are harassed by the world’s ways. A place that is pure, bright, secure, immovable. As people come to the temple, as people of the world engage with Christians, we need to be people who are not affected by what’s out there in the world, we need to be set apart, different, in essence an “alien and stranger” of this world as 1 Peter 2:11 reminds us.  The world is a broken place because of sin and its consequences.  As I live out my life as a Christian, striving to follow Christ, to make it my goal to honor God and please him in the way that I carry myself, in my character, in the choices that I make, to set myself apart from the influences and current of the world, as I strive to be others-centered, surrendering my rights and preferences so that Christ reigns in me and not “I”, to love and care for those who are hurting because of sin, to actively share the good news of the Gospel to a world that is hopeless and lost, to say “no” to sin/temptations, then I can set myself apart.  Personally, as I have been involved in ministry for the past 11 years, I’ve seen and encountered many people who have been struck down, beaten, dragged down by sin, people who put hope in the world and was left with feeling defiled, used, tired, regretful, guilty.  As I encounter such people, my identity of being a temple of God is very clear.  My home, my whole life can be and has been the place where people are able to hear and experience the Gospel firsthand and be made whole again through being reminded of the truths of how life is meant to be lived.

·       In the context of this passage, what are some steps to “bringing holiness to completion”?

In the context of this passage, this happens through making God the Lord over every aspect of my life, to choose God’s way when I’m making my day-to-day decisions, to identify with my God, to be separate from the world, to be active in identifying and removing idols, worldly influences that defile the temple of God, to “touch no unclean thing” (perhaps that might come in the form of inappropriate media, sexual immorality, filthy language that bring others down or is negative influence, etc.).  I often think about God and the fact that He is my Father in Heaven when I make my choices.  As I think about God, the fact that He’s my Father, He’s holy and pure, I want to please Him and honor Him as I live out my life.

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