September 24, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (2 Corinthians 11)

Submitted by Annie K. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

  • What are the different gospels of the world that lead people “astray from … sincere and pure devotion to Christ?”

One of many different gospels of the world that cause people to go astray from sincere and pure devotion to Christ is that if you claim God as your lord and savior, then your life should be free of suffering, pain and troubles. As a Christian, you should be kind to others and go to church faithfully, but ultimately look out for yourself and your own needs first. You shouldn’t need to put yourself in emotionally uncomfortable situations where you have to speak truth to people in difficult conversations, make yourself vulnerable to rejections from the very people you’re trying to love, or feel the burden and sorrow of ministering to others who are enslaved to sin. It is also that health and wealth gospel that says God will provide for your every need in extravagant ways and that you and your loved ones will remain healthy as long as you attend church and profess your love for Jesus only in words rather than with action. Another distorted gospel is that you don’t need to sacrifice that much or really change your life once you become Christian. All God really wants is good attendance at church and for you to tithe. How you spend all your other hours and money is completely up to your own discretion. You don’t need to be so involved in serving God, because that’s not necessary. Only the really spiritual people can do that if they want, but as for you, there’s no real need to turn your life upside down just because you follow Christ. The world also tells us that Jesus is not the answer to our problems, but rather that we need to believe in the idols of this world to satisfy our longings for love, happiness and meaning. We’re told that we can find that in financial security or prosperity, romance and marriage, a successful career/social status that can bring us respect and power, or in a life of comfort where your sphere of concern doesn’t expand beyond yourself.

  • Why would it be the case that people so easily put up with a “different spirit” or a “different gospel?”

People would be willing to put up with a different spirit or a different gospel than what is true because that’s what their hearts desire. They want to hear what their itching ears want to hear. These different gospels that give them the justification to go after the world or indulge in their desires while still being able to claim salvation comfortably is much more appealing than embracing a life of love, suffering and sacrifice.

  • How does the warning of v. 3 apply to me today?

Verse 3 warns against letting my thoughts be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ because of Satan’s lies. It really is hard to escape Satan because these false gospels are being preached to me daily by the media and by various people I encounter. The only way to prevent myself from being swayed by these lies is to be firmly rooted in the truth of the gospel. It especially becomes more difficult when life or ministry gets hard. As I experience girls running away from God and towards the things of this world, girls that I’ve been trying to love and minister to suddenly decide to leave because Christianity isn’t for them, or having difficult conversations of trying to speak truth that don’t go well, I start to question whether this is really the way that I was called to live. Maybe God didn’t really mean for me to take up my cross so literally in this way. Maybe he meant that I was just to donate to charities and serve in lesser ways that don’t involve so much of my heart and life.  But the cross and the gospel are very self-involving and I need to be constantly reminded of that through daily devotions and prayer. Only when I come back to God’s word and see the clearly stated picture of a disciple’s life and claim it to be true can I fight back against Satan’s attempts to tell me half-truths that cause me to question God’s character, his heart and the life that he calls me to live.

Submitted by Nathan C. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

2 Corinthians 11:1-2

  • Think about Apostle Paul’s role as a matchmaker between the Corinthian church and Jesus, and his anguish as he sees the waywardness and instability of the Corinthians.  What lessons does this give about ministry, and the role of spiritual leadership?

As the father who pledged his daughter to her future husband is responsible for her purity until the marriage took place in Jewish betrothal custom (Deut. 22:13-24), spiritual leaders have responsibility over the “sincere and pure devotion to Christ” of those who are entrusted to them. This is the role of spiritual leaders and the goal of ministry: to keep people from being led astray from and leading people to a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. It is not just the matter of leading church activities, planning things, giving rides, teaching different Christian courses, etc. One is not to be satisfied with the increasing number of people coming out to church events or if there are not obvious sins in people’s lives and they seem to be doing ok. Of course these are the things that need to be done and things that are to be rejoiced over, but they are to be done as means to lead them to greater devotion to Christ. The ultimate role of spiritual leaders and the goal of the ministry is for each Christian to have sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

Ministry is not about doing things one likes to do, feeling good for what one did in the service of others, and enjoying the gratitude and applause of people. Verses 1-2 in this text paints this picture of Apostle Paul having to do what he calls to be “foolishness,” pleading with Corinthians to bear with him in his “foolishness” and feeling the intense anguish over them what he calls “a divine jealousy.” Ministry involves doing things that ones wouldn’t normally do.  It involves dying to one’s pride and pleading with the very people who have wronged you. It involves intense emotions and anguishing over people.  All for what?  To bring the sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

  • Are there people in my life toward whom I have this kind of a “divine jealousy?”

As a spiritual leader engaged in college ministry, I have been growing in this divine jealousy for sincere and pure devotion to Christ to be cultivated in the hearts of the college students whom God has entrusted in my care. In college, they face so many different messages that tempt and try to lead them astray from their sincere and pure devotion to Christ. One way that the world appeals to them is by saying that what deserves their ultimate devotion is their academics and career achievements that would secure their future after graduating from college. (Of course, they should be faithful to their academics but not to be consumed by it.) Especially as they are getting older, and the graduation is no longer a far away future, the anxiety and the fear of the future and the uncertainty of it increases this temptation that these appeals bring. It starts to affect their attitude toward their Christian discipline, causing them to think that these disciplines only takes away their time which otherwise could be used in building up their career or achieving academic success. Many of my students have expressed this lately, and it causes me be concerned and worried for I have seen many who have been led astray because of the very same reason. As someone who was once in their shoes and experienced that Christ is indeed trustworthy in this regard, I feel this divine jealousy toward them to urge them and plead with them not to be led astray from their devotion to Christ and not give in to their fears and temptations.  The more and more I understand the joy and the life of undivided devotion to Christ, the more I feel this urge to share with others and keep my students from being led astray.

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