Great is My boldness of speech toward you, great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation. For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. — 2 Corinthians 7: 4–5
We joyfully continue on our path of faith despite various tribulations.
In our Bible text, Apostle Paul describes the problems in Macedonia (Acts 20: 1–3) in a very personal and authentic manner. This passage attests to the fact that Paul fulfilled his commission with joy despite the problems he faced. He took comfort from the positive developments within the congregation. Looking back, he made it clear that the gospel was under attack by other doctrines from outside, and that he was even exposed to many different hostilities within the congregation of Corinth.
The church of the Lord
The Lord Himself opened up the way to make salvation accessible to all mankind. To this end, He established His church and gave the gospel to all mankind. The letter of Paul to the Corinthians indicates the discrepancy between the demands of the gospel and the reality in the congregation: “Therefore … let us cleanse ourselves …, perfecting holiness” (2 Corinthians 7: 1).
While the church of Christ is perfect as a divine institution, the people who belong to it, who work and serve in it, exhibit shortcomings.
Apostle Paul refers to conflicts and problems outside of the congregation, something we can identify with in our current reality in the form of:
- Increasing influence of other doctrines.
- A decline of the Christian faith.
- A growing materialism.
It would be foolish to deny these risks and dangers, which are very serious in many cases. We see these tendencies in society, in our personal surroundings, and, closer to home, when our own family is affected. But like Paul, let us not allow ourselves to be discouraged by such influences or lose our joy in faith. As a believing congregation, let us stand together and thereby make the Apostles exceedingly joyful.
At the start of his activity in Corinth, Paul was rejected by a good portion of the congregation. However, this did not deter him from boasting about the congregation and telling others of its endeavours and exploits.
Inner conflicts also affect the church of today. Sometimes people do not accept the Apostle ministry, call into question the doctrine of the Apostles, or reject the neighbour who sits in the same pew.
Let us examine ourselves to see how we respond to such threats.
- How steadfast is our faith?
- Do we continue working along in the congregation undeterred?
- Do we still see the good in our brother and sister?
- Does our joy in the return of Christ still produce strength for our activity?
Let us continue to joyfully
- Cultivate our unity.
- Separate ourselves from all ungodly things.
- Apply the gospel always and everywhere.
To this end, let us allow ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit, particularly in times of trouble and conflict.
* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for the divine service held on 12 June 2016 at Midrand Congregation.