The Greatest Thing Happening Today2 Corinthians 2:5 – 3:18Theme: The glory of the Gospel.This week’s lessons teach us about what God is doing in the world today.
LessonWe are studying Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians and our study brings us to chapter 2, verse 5. From this verse through to the end of chapter 3 is a very diverse portion of the letter. If you analyze it in terms of the type of material Paul presents, you find three different things. There a section in which Paul refers to a disciplinary case that existed in the church in Corinth – one that had been handled, and to which he now responds. There is also a personal section in which he begins to talk about his own ministry and reflects upon its nature and its effects. Then, at the very end, there is a theological section in which he contrasts the old covenant with the new covenant in the lives of people with whom God is working. I find, however, as I look at this section and reflect on these three things, that they also describe what God is doing in the world. And because they speak of what God is doing in the world, they speak about the most important thing that is happening in the world today.
We live in a very restless age in which people are dissatisfied with what they have or have seen and are looking about for something new. They are, therefore, internally – if not externally – rushing about from place to place to see if they can find something that will satisfy. I’m reminded of Jesus’ words when he spoke of the end times. He said that in the last days people would be frantically seeking the Messiah, in the form of a political figure.
They will say, “Look, he’s over here! Let’s come and see him.” But Jesus said, “At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect – if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,’ …do not believe it” (Matt. 24: 23-26). Jesus warns that those things do not indicate the end.
But people are doing that today anyway. Some look to politics because they believe the myth that real change, real power, is found in that arena. There is an attempt by politicians, and by the media, to build up that myth. But the power for change is not really in the political system.
Politics is a valuable thing in its own way, like any other aspect of our life and work. But the place where changes really take place is in the lives of people. And that reflects itself in the political system rather than its being the other way around. But many people say, “Oh, no, the way to get something really to happen is to elect so-and-so.”
The Apostle Paul was not unaware of such influences. All you have to do is read his letters carefully and look at the imagery he used to see that he knew much about the social life of his day. He uses images from sports, for example. I don’t have any doubt that the Apostle Paul witnessed sports events in the Greek and Roman world, because he used that imagery to describe himself as a runner, striving for the prize.
But if you had said to the Apostle Paul, “Is that really the important thing in life? Is that really the area of life where one should pour one’s interest, and spend one’s time, and exhibit one’s enthusiasm? The Apostle Paul would have said, without any question, that to do that is the height of folly because what really matters, what matters now and what matters for eternity, is what God is doing in the world in the lives of the people who are being rescued from sin, being made alive to righteousness, and being transformed from within by the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
Into what three sections does Dr. Boice divide 2 Corinthians 2:5 – 3:18?
What things does the world hold in high esteem? What is ultimately important?