“Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. 2 Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one. 3 I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. 4 I have spoken to you with great frankness; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.” 2 Corinthians 7.1-4
Pauls‘ second letter to the Corinthians reveals the depth of commitment, friendship and love that he has for the church. He writes to them, not as a captain would his troops, but as a brother, father or friend.
He repeatedly calls them “dear friends”. He urges them to holiness to “purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and soul.”
I could see some reading this and going to an extreme. Perhaps like the Amish or others who relinquish all worldly possessions and positions. Taking it to the extreme of saying no to modern conveniences, technology, wealth and power. Yet I find peace in balance. Using what man has developed yet with self-control and temperance.
Paul then offers encouragement to the church to “make room for us in your hearts.” Who is “us”? Paul, Timothy, Titus? Other leaders who traveled with Paul from church to church to strengthen, edify and build up the Body? Pauls’ love for the church is evident — “I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you.” He confirms how much pride he takes in this fellowship and says outright that he is “greatly encouraged” for “In all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.”
I get a sense that some sort of difficulty or miscommunication has happened between Paul, his leadership team and the church. Although much of the early Christians were once Jewish, the cultural differences, language barriers and miscommunication would be great.
Paul turns difficulty into encouragement. He affirms, as well as rebukes, the early church. But he does so with love, care and direction.
There is a good word in here for us — to love one another. To carefully treat our fellow believers as Christ would treat us. Pastors, overseers and lay leaders today can learn much from Paul in how he develops and support this portion of Christ’s Body.
“O Lord God, you are good. It’s incredible to read words from two thousand years ago that still apply to us today. Your message to the Corinthians is a message for us. Help us learn to walk in holiness, step into purity and be washed in love. I praise you Lord for you are good. I exalt your name and glorify your grace. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen