Tuesday, April 5, 2011

wide open ministry love

We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open.
2 Corinthians 6:11

Paul had invested a lot of time and effort in his ministry to the church at Corinth. For some reason this investment in years and energy was not always well received. Of all the churches we know of that had contact with Paul, the Corinthian church seemed to struggle the most. They struggled with the authority of the message. They struggled with the authority of the messenger. They struggled with reverting back to sinful behaviors.

Paul reminded him of the kind of efforts he had made among them. 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 are a profound list of the difficulties Paul endured in order to keep the gospel central in the Corinthian church. And in that list is a massive amount of paradox: honor and dishonor, slander and praise, imposters yet the real deal, unknown and known, dying yet alive, dying but not dead, sorrowful yet rejoicing still, poor yet enriching, and as possessionless yet having everything in Christ. Paul poured out his heart and life with these people.

That is where the appeal of verses 11-13 comes into play. Paul says that he has spoken freely despite the church's struggle to hear him. He has been transparent in his love and ministry. His heart is wide open. There is nothing hidden. All the good and the bad, the glory and the gory are there on display in the outcome of his ministry in Corinth. This is not a statement with even an ounce of regret in it. It is a statement of passion. It is what ministry ought to look like in the real world. It is messy, yet it is messy because it is the love of Christ at work in us.

Such is the call to serve. If we really care for people, we will risk a lot. With that risk will come misunderstandings and REALLY HARD WORK! There is no other way around it. But we cannot give up. A passion for the gospel and love for our Lord compel us to run wide open with hearts wide open. And in the difficult collision of emotion, passion, and service, we find the ever present love of Christ for the world. Christianity is not a narrow little corner of our lives. It is all that we are about! And that purpose gives us a passion that plays loud and hard, cranked to 11 for the world to see in us.

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

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