By Rob Flaherty - Interim Student Minister
2 Corinthians 10:15–18
We live in everyday submission to many authorities, which limits what we do: from parents, teachers, police officers, bosses, and even government officials. All authorities are to be respected, and scripture even says they need to be honored. Although, only one authority has the core right to convict the deep inner conscience. God alone has that absolute duty, and He does it by the power of His revelation to us.
It was this calling that drove Jonah to run to Tarshish, which caused his terrified shipmates to throw him into the ocean. It was this calling that provoked the agonized cry from Paul, "Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel" (1 Cor. 9:16). It was also this calling that put the cup of bitterness in the hands of Jesus.
We can choose to hear God, and we can choose to disobey Him. I am sure we can all think of a time when we defied what He pressed on our hearts; we are human. We can also see through the lens of scripture that it is our duty from which we should never flee.
Paul shows us in this passage that he will not participate in a popularity contest with others. His primary purpose on earth is to share and lead others to faith in Jesus, not the love of Paul. Of course, I am sure he wanted people to like him, but he had a prime focus on God's mission, not a position, person, or program. Paul didn't care to measure himself against the world; I think he frowned on it.
Why might you ask? I consider he saw the big picture exceptionally clearly.
God is calling all of us according to our gifts and talents. He directs our paths in the most helpful service for His kingdom. As a church, we have a mission. How far are you willing to go? What are you avoiding to use your maximum potential to reach people for the Gospel? Do not measure up and think you can't impact the "regions" because you can. Build each other up because He commands it, and go! The call of God is not always glamorous, and the work is often bittersweet, but it's worthwhile when you see eternity.
Have you become satisfied with the way you are moving the Gospel forward? Whose opinion (including your own) matters to you the most? Remember, the approval that matters most comes from above, so don't be afraid. How robbed would we be if Jonah had made it to Tarshish, if Paul declined to preach, if the disciples stopped at the tomb, or if Jesus had graciously denied the cup?
Like Paul, we will be challenged, we will be questioned, and we will be discounted. My prayer is that everyone reflects and asks themselves what circumstance, pride, person, sin, inadequacy, or inconvenience is in the way of declaring the Gospel and His grace. How far are you willing to go?
It has been a blessing to serve our church. Above all, remember, you have the authority and responsibility because you know the good news!