All too often, we limit who God is by our experiences. We think that God will be like our natural father or we think God behave like what we see on TV or in the movies. We limit what we think God can do by what “we” think is possible. But, His ways are not our ways. He may well, and often does, do things in ways that are totally different to how we would have or would like them done.
Today, particularly in the U.S., we are ruled by science. In other words, if it can't be sensed, understood, and explained by our natural senses, we are skeptical, or even downright negative towards it. However, we serve God who is in the business of the supernatural. If we want to see God move in spectacular ways, we have to be open to the supernatural working of God.
As we enter the new year, resolutions are on everyone’s mind. We are all focused on a new future. Turns out, Christianity is always looking towards the future. We let go of our past because it has already been paid for. We look towards the future, to who we are in Christ, and not who we were.
Sometimes real love demands confrontation. Paul has spent the majority of this letter defending himself against the accusations of the false teachers and apostles, as well as those brought by the congregation. But as he ends this letter, it is time for Paul to confront the Corinthians. Paul reminds them that all they do is done in front of God, who is our judge. If they won’t listen to him, then Paul tells them to examine themselves to ensure they are in Christ, and He in them. Because ultimately, Paul’s primary concern has always been the Corinthian church and their wellbeing.
Paul has spent the last little bit engaging in foolish boasting in order to undermine the false teachers and apostles. But now, the tone changes, and he begins to challenge the Corinthians themselves. While he was with them, all the true signs of an apostle were evident, and they received the same care, love, and teaching that any church planted by one of the other apostles gave. Except he was not a burden on them. He wonders why he is to be loved less for this. Finally, he expresses his concern with what he might find on his next visit.
Paul now moves on to visions and revelations in his foolish boasting, almost like he is answering a check list of things the false apostle were boasting about. Even though Paul had experienced great visions and revelations, he quickly falls back to boasting in his weakness. It is in his weakness that he is strong in Christ and he is content in whatever hardship and suffering comes his way in order that Christ be glorified.
The false apostles had been doing their fair share of boasting. So, Paul, even though he would prefer not to, is required to act foolish and boast of his own accomplishments. But the purpose of this is not to build himself up, but rather with frequent exclamations of the foolishness for this exercise, it is to undermine the validity of the false apostles boasting. But even in his boasting, Paul boasts of his weaknesses primarily instead of his strength. The truth is, God moves in our weaknesses where there can be no doubt that it is Him working.
The Corinthians had been easily deceived and led astray by false teachers. These teachers came in and boasted of their own abilities all the while cutting down Paul. But Paul is now going to take an aggressive stance with these false teachers. By the end of this message, we will know exactly what Paul thinks of these false apostles.