Saturday, June 16, 2018

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

HARDSHIPS OF THE APOSTLE
2 Corinthians 11: 16-29
I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. (2 Cor 11:27-28)
This passage indicates powerful and emotional statement of St. Paul in light of the various criticisms and oppositions he encountered in his ministry among the Corinthian church (II Cor. 10:10). He sought to guide the new believers and Jewish Christians (most likely his opponents who emphasized Jewish origins of the faith) towards a deeper understanding of the true Christian lifestyle characterized by selfless love.
True Weakness, through self-exaltation to the world: In this passage, St. Paul adamantly decries the "value" of prideful assertions and claims for the followers of Christ. In fact, he notions that this is not of the divine but that such is "according to human standards" (II Cor. 11:17-18). Or, in other words, he evidences the worldly attitudes and behaviors that have crept into the faith community. St. Paul even refers the arrogance of the ministers of Christ who foolishly boast in their abilities (II Cor. 11:22-23). In such a scenario, the self ("me", "myself" and "I") are more significant than the other. Thus, the motivation of one's life simply becomes self-exaltation and thereby the gospel and mission of Christ's love is denied. It is in this that we may observe true weakness (which means faintness or lacking strength), because there is an inherent breakdown in apostleship (which means "being sent out") and a shift of focus from Christ to self.
True Strength, through self-surrender to Christ: St. Paul attempted to teach the believers that true strength is not in appearance, heritage, or background but in one's self-surrender to Christ. This is particularly noteworthy in that he endured the harsh criticism of the Corinthians when they retorted "his bodily presence is weak and his speech contemptible" (II Cor. 10:10). However, he did not reply with a boastful or defensive rhetoric of his strengths but, rather with an emotional recollection of his weaknesses and sacrifices in his surrender to Christ (II Cor. 11:24-30). Therein, Christ reveals His strength, the true strength, through his servant, St. Paul. Thus, in his weakest moments and in the midst of his most painful experiences it is Christ who is exalted and not himself. This is the essence of true strength that transcends the physical and worldly in order to be a channel of God's true love.
Along with St. Paul, may we also fulfill the ministry of apostleship and proudly proclaim "I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that power of Christ may dwell in me. *Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships.. .for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong" (11 Cor. 12:9-10).
Prayer:
O Lord, my Strength, empower me to live a life of self-surrender to You so that Your power would be made perfect in my weakness. We pray in the name of Jesus, Amen
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Hardships refine us for Gods higher purpose.
Christian Education Forum, Diocese of NAE of the Mar Thoma Church