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Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Today’s Reading | 2 Corinthians 4:5–12
For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. (NRSV)
One of the great things about being a pastor at Fourth Church is that you are surrounded by great clergy colleagues. In that company, there is much wisdom to be found, and one consistent and generous source has been John Boyle. He sometimes asks us to pay attention to things we would rather quickly pass over. And once, in explaining why, he told us that, “It’s very often more important to understand your failures than your successes.”
I recently spoke to him about his comment and how I’ve reflected on it many times. During that conversation he said that it was important to consider this because, “Jesus, by any measure of his community or times, was a failure. He even ended up on the cross.”
We who follow Jesus Christ are always seeking to live into his resurrection, to find ways of simply overcoming the difficulties we face. However, John reminds me that it is important for us to explore the cross of Christ in equal measure, to truly examine the places where we have failed or are weak, and to not be ashamed to expose our wounds to the light of day.
Perhaps it’s true, as Paul said, that our frailty and brokenness are important, because they show that it is God’s power, and not our own, that allows us to live as resurrection people. But I also believe that the “death” of Christ, as Paul puts it, is something that we need to fully experience for our own sake as well, so that our rising to new life can be made fully powerful and real and not just be a willful ignorance of the brokenness of our world and ourselves.
Help me, God of the Risen Christ, when I struggle with my brokenness and the sin I experience in the world. Hold me when I am afflicted, persecuted, or struck down. And make me a willing servant of Christ, one who does not flee from difficulty but is willing to carry within me that death that Jesus suffered—so that by my living into newness I might allow others, and myself, to know that you are able to redeem us from every evil. Amen.
Written by Hardy H. Kim, Associate Pastor for Evangelism
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