2 CORINTHIANS 1:8-11 – For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. “
THEME OF THE DAY: BE REAL. So, have you ever walked into church, meet a well-intentioned, sincere brother or sister who greets you with a statement like “Good to see you, how are you?” and your response was a one word “fine” or “good” or something like, “I am doing okay”? But it wasn’t true. You actually dragged yourself into church and would rather not be there. A somewhat heated argument with a spouse or kids happened on the way. You are grumpy and haven’t read your Bible for days. Sleep? You are worried about finances and making ends meet, and frankly, don’t remember when a good night’s sleep is something you enjoyed. Really, if you answered the greeting question honestly you would have said, “Do you really want to know? Let’s have lunch. It will take time. I am lousy, tired, probably depressed, and barely hanging on.”
Friends, that little scenario isn’t a work of fiction. Oh, the particulars may change, but this happens quite often on the Lord’s Day, and when other gatherings of Christians occur. We are guarded. We are reluctant to open up and be real about ourselves with other Christians. We live in a “safe bubble” fearing vulnerability. Now, I don’t mean to be overly simplistic here, but think about it. Think about the Christians in your life, my life. How well do we know each other? Not common interests which are always safe territory. I am referring to the common realities of the difficulties in the Christian life.
If you were to ask me what is one of the greatest needs in the church of the Lord Jesus today, I would answer, “The need to put away our fears, inhibitions, and be authentic Christians. Stop putting on the “plastic smiles” on Sunday mornings and let’s be Biblical, be real, and model the transparency in our relationships with other Christians we see in the Bible.”
In today’s scripture, we find the Apostle Paul, the greatest Christian ever to walk with the Lord Jesus, being real. Really real. He shares the depths of his struggles with the Corinthian church. He is not afraid to be the real Paul, not the perceived Paul who would have it all together. He shared his weaknesses. He shared his depression, even his despair. He shared his struggles. And if we have any hope of reaching the world for the real Jesus, then it is time for us to be just as real.
PRAYER: “Father, forgive me for the way too many times I fear what people think of me and don’t share my real self.”
QUOTE: “There is only one type of Christianity – real Christianity where we are willing to be real in our relationships.”
Because of Him,