Daily posts to help you connect with God
and keep yourself travelling in the right orbit
ORBIT | WEEK SIXTEEN
ORBIT – DAY SEVENTY-FOUR
Hello and welcome to another Orbit, the weekday devotional from the youth team at St Mary’s Reigate. If you’re just joining us for the first time, Orbit is a daily Bible reading, with some thoughts to help you put it into practice in your life. We hope this is useful – if you like it, please do spread the word!
BIBLE READING – 2 Corinthians 6: 4-13
This is a bit of a longer reading – but it’s one of my absolute favourite passages in the whole Bible, so please forgive me in my enthusiasm: this is gold.
Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonour, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also.
Paul is a revolutionary. He is leading an incredible cultural revolution in his time, with a ragtag bunch of unskilled, uneducated men and women behind him, and the forces of both the Roman Empire and the Jewish leaders standing in opposition.
Somehow, he manages to plant churches all over the world, and resources and supports many more. He sees the church grow in a few decades from tens, to hundreds, to many thousands of people – the start of a movement which has today grown to over two billion worldwide.
Of course, he doesn’t do that without opposition. There are many people who want to squash Christianity before it has a chance to grow and spread; there are loads more who want to have Paul thrown in jail – or even killed. Wherever he travels in the stories we read in the New Testament, Paul is constantly living in threat of danger – like any great hero fighting for a cause. And that’s what Paul is: a hero of the Christian faith – that’s why today we tend to refer to him as St Paul. He dedicated his whole life to sharing the good news about Jesus as far and as wide as possible – and it meant that living that life was far from easy.
We may not live under the same kinds of opposition or threat as Paul, but that’s not to say we get a completely easy ride. If we’re really working to share God’s love, to tell others about him, and live for the extension of his kingdom, then we too should expect some opposition.
And… the reverse is true too. If I’m not seeing much resistance or opposition to the way I choose to live, or the things I say, it’s possible that maybe I’m not living a life that is particularly noticeable as different. If I’m not getting teased for being a Christian occasionally… is that because no-one particularly knows or notices that I’m a Christian?
This was Paul’s challenge to the Corinthians. In his life, he was facing beatings, imprisonment and death threats because he was so disruptively Jesus-obsessed. By comparison, the church in Corinth was barely causing anyone to notice them. No-one was pushing them around at school for claiming to be Christians, because effectively, they were all keeping it a bit quiet.
I think this reading encourages us – as it did that church in Corinth, to embrace the fact that if things get a bit tough for us – socially speaking – then we’re probably doing Christianity right. Not because we’re being rude, or divisive, or judgmental – but because our constant talking about Jesus, seeking justice and doing good is an irritation to a world that doesn’t want those things.
I realise this will now be the longest Orbit ever, but I’d love to share one more thing. Instead of a challenge today, I’d like to invite you to listen to a different version of today’s reading. The Message paraphrase of the Bible rewords this passage in the most amazing way – and gives us a rousing rallying call to look silly for Jesus in front of our friends, or to shine so brightly that we offend the darkness.
Our work as God’s servants gets validated—or not—in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we’re beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we’re telling the truth, and when God’s showing his power; when we’re doing our best setting things right; when we’re praised, and when we’re blamed; slandered, and honoured; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognised by God; terrifically alive, though rumoured to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all.
Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!
You might want to join me in praying this prayer.
Lord God – we want some of what Paul is calling us to. We don’t want to live small – but open and expansive lives! Help us to share your love whatever the cost, whatever the embarrassment, whatever opposition we might face. You’re worth it. Amen
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We’ll be back with another edition of Orbit tomorrow. Thanks for taking part today!