We were struck by the message of this chapter.
For if someone comes to you
and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached,
or if you receive a different spirit
from the one you received,
or a different gospel from the one you accepted,
you put up with it easily enough.
2 Corinthians 11:4 (NIV)
The Corinthians were a lot like us Americans. They focused on things like success, money, eloquence, influence and power. False apostles had an easy time leading the Corinthian church astray by appealing to their humanistic and materialistic tendencies.
We do that a great deal of the time as well. We try to attract people to church by telling them:
- God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.
- God will help you get your life on track.
- God will fix your relationships.
- God will bless your finances.
- Christian people are the people to be. We are the coolest, hippest, most happening guys around, and you want to be part of us... so how about you join our church and become a tithing member?
Human nature boasts in financial achievement, high positions, fancy vacations, designer clothing, fame, power and dominance. Paul had already addressed this issue with the Corinthians, reminding them:
But God chose
the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;
the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
the lowly things of this world and the despised things
--and the things that are not--
to nullify the things that are,
so that no one may boast before Him.
1 Corinthians 1:27-29 (NIV)
God is not about aggrandizing humanity.
God is about teaching us to be humble so He can display His power through us, and so when this happens, people will not be confused about where the glory comes from. It comes from Him.
Jesus set the pattern for this (read Philippians 2, and also Isaiah 53:2-3).
Jesus did not come to be the coolest guy around, nor to attract all kinds of other cool people to His gang so they could all be cool together. (Or boss or fly or whatever word is used for "cool" these days.)
Jesus came to teach us the way to the Father, and the way to the Father is the narrow way, the way of self denial, the way of humility and shame and persecution.
If I must boast,
I will boast about the things
that show my weakness.
2 Corinthians 11:30
Paul wants us to know: it is not about us. It is about Jesus.
It is not about what we can do; it is about what He can do.
To the unenlightened, this kind of boasting seems foolish,
but to the enlightened, the boasting of worldly successes looks foolish.
And such is the paradox of the gospel.