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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | 2 Corinthians 5:20b—6:10

So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says, “At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.” See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything. (NRSV)

In this passage Paul reminds the people of the Corinthian church that they are mortal and depend on God’s grace to live, just as they depend on air to breathe.

Furthermore, because of Jesus, nothing that they experience will ever be outside of God’s own experience. Paul lists the myriad of ways he and other leaders have suffered due to being followers of Jesus, yet every time he lists something that could have broken them, he quickly moves to how God worked through it to give them what they needed to keep moving forward in faith and in love.

Paul’s words remind me of what Congressman John Lewis wrote in his book Across That Bridge. When he reflected on his childhood and young adulthood, he talked about the importance of his faith, which was as necessary for his survival as the air: “Having values and holding on to our beliefs is what got us through and it’s what will get you through. I never felt I was the underdog. I never felt that I was poor or deprived. I discovered after I left my parents’ farm that other people viewed me as country or poor, but it was never how I saw myself. . . . My upbringing, my community, my faith gave me confidence because it was not based on an external definition of our value. We knew we were children of the divine, so we believe in our own worth, regardless what the world might say” (John Lewis, Across That Bridge, pp. 78–79). May it be so for us all.

Creative God, your grace and love are as critical for my life as food and water are for my body. Help me to remember and to not take any of it for granted. In your goodness, you have accompanied me through all kinds of trials. As I look back on the life I have lived thus far, I see your loving presence every step of the way. You have indeed listened to me, helped me, and saved me. I am eternally grateful, and I pray I might live that thanks with my life. Amen.

Written by Shannon J. Kershner, Pastor

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