Today marks the halfway point in our study. We were challenged in our first lesson of this session to consider what the word home means to each of us. When I think of home, my family and my actual house come to mind. I also think of intangible factors that evoke the feelings of home. Kelly Minter drew our attention away from these ideas to focus on our physical bodies, what Paul calls our earthly tents.
“Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-4
In this lesson, we cross referenced our reading passage from 2 Corinthians with 1 Corinthians 15:53,54. These verses reveal that Paul taught that the perishable and mortal body must be clothed with the immortal and imperishable body. In order to dwell with God in heaven, our bodies must change and be made new. The Holy Spirit is our guarantee, our assurance of that reality to come [2 Corinthians 5:5].
“Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.” 2 Corinthians 5:6-9
On Day 2, our focus was directed to our motivation in ministry. What is our true heart’s intent when we serve our families, churches, and neighborhoods? The Corinthian church placed value on externals and Paul didn’t appear to offer them what they sought based on his outward appearance. But Paul defends his position that he did nothing for selfish gain but everything out of love for them. Paul stated his reason was that the love of Christ Jesus compelled him to love and serve others. We were taught the Greek word for compel found in this passage. One of the definitions for the word is “to be physically held.” Kelly Minter shared with us that “when the love of Jesus is what’s holding and compelling you, you will selflessly bless and serve others.” This statement rings true. I love the image this statement conjures in my mind that the love of Christ physically holds and compels me so my service to others is really Him at work through me.
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” 2 Corinthians 5:14,15
Our lesson on Day 3 centered around reconciliation. Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus on our behalf as believers, we have been reconciled to God through Christ. We are no longer what we were formerly. We are made new. Our relationship with God is restored. This reconciliation calls for us to be at peace and to offer peace to others. Paul states we are Christ’s ambassadors with a vital message that needs to be shared with others.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
On Day 4, we read of the tension and struggle that Paul faced in ministry. He was intentional about his ministry to others so the message that he brought of Jesus Christ was not discredited. In our lesson, we also listed the four virtues that characterized Paul’s ministry and the four methods that he used. We considered each of these in fuller detail. We also considered the couplets found in 2 Corinthians 6:8-10. These couplets are a firm reminder to me of the constant tension in my life of faith and my need for God.
Our last lesson for the week focused on relationships between believers and non-believers. These relationships are often referred to as being unequally yoked. As a new creation in Christ Jesus, we are yoked with Christ. We have become the temple of the living God. He dwells within us. A person who has not become a believer does not share the same spirit and heart’s desire. They are pulled in a different direction. These differences place the relationship at odds. We answered questions and cross referenced other scriptures during our study of this lesson.
“What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”” 2 Corinthians 6:16
We’re halfway through our study! Start Session 5 this week.