BY SCOTT OWENS
In 2 Cor 7, Paul is sharing about his love for the Corinthian church and his mood and temperament when he thinks of them and has come to visit them. If you read in vs.5 he is sharing about his struggles of what has happened, you know what that looks like (_____ didn’t go according to plan, I was hoping to get done with _____, if only we could of done _____ instead).
The could have’s, and would have’s that creep into our attitude that can steal our joy. Then vs.6 comes and it starts with two small words… BUT GOD!
Stop here for a second.
When was the last time your sentence was only… BUT GOD?
Personally like you, I struggle to let him take over. Sometimes I struggle to invite him to change my attitude and sometimes I struggle with allowing him to change the hard parts of me. If you read 2 Cor 7:5-9 you will see a change in Paul’s attitude when those two words come. I know far too many times that I don’t let God come in, take over, move me out of the way and take control.
However, when we do allow Him to take over it changes our testimony from ‘we feel like we it’ to ‘God took over and Wow’. Think of it like this, you are driving down the road when you are sleepy and just want to get home as fast as you can. We can continue driving tired or we can we allow our willing passenger who is well-rested to take the wheel and get us home. However, we have to pull over the car and that takes time and we don’t want to stop for anything. In the end it is going to work out way better for us if we let go of control and look to Him in our struggles.
There is a great African proverb, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” At the beginning of the sermon on the mount after the BeAttitudes, Jesus calls us the salt and light of the world and says that we are “a city set on a hill”. What is a city?
- A city is not one person
- A city is not isolated with its own beliefs
- A city is not only a self-selected group
- A city is alive with people that count on each other
I recently was listening to Tim Keller from Redeemer Presbyterian in New York city and he made the distinction between a community and a club. ‘A club is a group of people that have a common interest, but a community is when a group of people have a common interest that transforms every aspect of their lives.’
Let us be reminded that just because we live in the north woods doesn’t mean that a city is bad. I know that I struggle with driving down to the Twin Cities and I even limit my trips to Brainerd to once every week, two weeks or less. However, Christ calls us to be in community, a city on a hill. This means that the community we are in at church or with other believers is to transform our life.
We are called to be IN relationship WITH Him and IN COMMUNITY. We cannot be with Him outside of community. IMPOSSIBLE because we were not design that way.
There is more scriptural evidence about the need of community in our own life over isolating ourselves God (Lk 18:16; 19:10; 24:15; He 12:1) and yet we struggle to seek out community as though it doesn’t draw us closer to. If we are seekers of His magnificent glory and joy in our life then would we not run after every chance to grow in community with Him through being with the church and expanding the church to our neighbors?
He makes the city on a hill, Builds the buildings, Opens the gates, Provides the food, Gives Shelter to live (Jn 14:2). So in the midst of my struggles and frustration over things not going my direction…
He gives me others around me to come alongside and encourage me along the way. That is what a relational, loving God wants so that we are a ‘cloud of witnesses’ (He 12:1). That, I rejoice over and agree with Paul.