“God is so good, God is so good, God is so good, He’s so good to me.” I imbibe this little song and what it means to me and countless others.
“Yes, My goodness overrides everything in this world and this universe. What you see when you look around you is chaos, fear, violence, hate, a world scurrying around – yet behind all this is a huge solid framework – the framework of My goodness. Everywhere My goodness is manifesting, sometimes there to see, sometimes hidden. The pinnacle of My goodness was My death on the cross which has suffused every situation in the whole world. Which has especially suffuse the suffering and chaos you see. Settling into a solid framework of my goodness which upholds My whole creation. So, yes, appreciate My goodness not only in general but towards you personally and towards every person who reads this blog”.
Picking up now in Corinthians where we left off last week, where we had started looking at the prologue to the letter, we find that we are reading a unique piece of literature. Everywhere else Paul speaks with such authority and clarity. He often speaks of difficulties he has had to face, but he always appears to have been able to deal with them decisively and without really seeming to become too emotionally involved. Here we have a deeper insight into Paul and his feelings. We see a man who is wracked with regret that he may have offended some. We see a man who has been trying to organize his life in such a way as best to deal with a situation which he is perceiving as extremely difficult.
Read from 1:12 to 2:11 and see if you can follow the gist of what he is saying. I found I had to read it several times to get an idea of his presentation as it seemed sometimes to be a bit confusing.
In 12 – 14 he defends his conduct and his correspondence with them, trusting that the Lord will help them to understand in due time.
Then from 12 – 22 he speaks about the plans he has had and has had to change , because of circumstances.. This seems to have been a sore point to the Corinthian church. We don’t know what they had said to him but it seems that they were saying that if he could change his plans so easily then his message is probably equally unreliable. This is an important point for Paul, because the gospel message’s integrity must be kept at all costs. So we find him writing the well-known words in vs 20, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through Him the amen is spoken to us to the glory of God”. Then he goes on to reaffirm how sure our position ‘In Christ” is, repeating the reassuring words from Ephesians 1:13 that we are “sealed by the Holy Spirit” as a sign of His total ownership of ourselves.
These are most reassuring words to the Corinthians and to us today. The message is evident. “Don’t rely completely on anyone. We are all fallible human beings. The only one that we should rely on completely is Jesus Himself. His answer is always yes and Amen. He is totally dependable under all circumstances, even when we may not see it so easily..
He then explains why he had not come to them earlier. It had to do with his previous interaction with them. He had, of course, written 1 Corinthians, which was quite a severe letter. The it seems he had visited them and there he was confronted with the fact that they were quite upset with him. Here he tells of his feelings towards them and how he would like to correct the bad taste he had left.
(2: 5-11) Prominently there appears a figure who seems to have been behind much of the rejection and bad feelings towards Paul in the Church. Here he shares how glad he is that the church had dealt with this person and disciplined him. He now pleads that they should forgive him, even as he, Paul has forgiven him.
This whole section shows the complexity of Paul’s relationship with this church an how he had invested much emotion in this relationship with them. It is a remarkable insight into Paul, the person.
So what has Jesus been saying to me from this passage.? Well firstly my conduct before and with anyone can have a definite effect on whether they will believe my message. This is easy, perhaps when you are ‘on show’ as it were, but it is in the unguarded moments that people often assess my character. So my actions and behaviour, my words and manner should always be, as much us possible under the guidance and help of the Holy Spirit.
Secondly; while a person does not want to become too emotionally involved, it is important to remember that the word “compassion” means you have passion or are feeling with the person you are speaking to. It is easy to sense when when people are not really listening to you when you speak to them. So also they can sense when your mind is elsewhere when they are sharing some deeper feelings. This takes practice and the help of the Holy Spirit as well.
Finally we have here the case of the one person who opposes you. I have experienced this in several situations and it is extremely unsettling. However, on looking back I see how the Lord has used these people to help me to grow in my ability to relate and to forgive.
Have a good week all of you and remember, “God IS so Good to you and to me”.