Wednesday, April 23, 2014

We are not naked

2Corinthians 5:1  For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2  For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling-- 3  if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked. 4  For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5  He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 6  So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord-- 7  for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8  Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9  So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10  For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.

Greek culture in the first Century admired two things: athletic prowess and philosophical oratory.[1] Paul/Saul, the teacher of Jesus’ way, had neither of these. He was considered to be both a poor speaker, and a small, ugly man. In 2 Corinthians Chapter 4, we see Paul beginning to respond to this perceived disadvantage by asserting that his message was larger than the “clay jar” that preached it.

Now in Chapter 5 Paul insists that his weak appearance does not discredit his ministry. He states his confidence that the temporary, fragile body he currently used will be replaced by a future resurrected body. This hope enables him to continue with his ministry. Therefore although some of his Greek audience might think that his battered and bruised body is something to be ashamed of, he knows that this is only temporary and will exchange this for a future body that will clothe him for eternity.

Here is a useful challenge in our image obsessed culture. It is a sad reality that advertising makes us feel insecure about the way we look. This has led many into illness like bulimia or anorexia in an attempt to modify their bodies; it has led others to use plastic surgery in order to improve their image; and has left many,  many people feeling inadequate and ugly.
We who are followers of Jesus need not feel ashamed of the way we look. These bodies are only temporary. Of course we need to care for our bodies, and feed our bodies, and keep our bodies fit, so that we are able to give our best service to God. But we do not need to be seduced by the lie of our culture that questions whether we are beautiful enough, or thin enough, or young enough. These are a waste of our God-given energy. Let us rather worry about the way we offer love and compassion; let us obsess about using our bodies to build God’s values of justice, and righteousness, and peace. 

For Thought
All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

GUNGOR "Beautiful Things"

Second Sunday of Easter
23 Partakers of Eternal Life
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Rueben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 148.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day

[1] Of course they admired many more things – but these two are important here.

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