Background Story: Paul is writing a letter to the church of Corinth with encouragement and instruction on living a Christian life.
Read: 2 Corinthians 4:4-18
4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Big Idea: The only way to live today for Christ is through the power of the Holy Spirit.
My senior year, I had this teacher who loved to ridicule me in front of the class for my faith in Christ. It was hard to live for Christ as a teen, but it must be even harder today. Verse 4 says, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel.” How true this is today! Teens and adults alike are living their lives completely blind to God’s presence. In America, it is hard to meet someone who hasn’t heard about the cross of Christ. They might even own a cross necklace yet live in complete blindness to the revelation of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
It can feel like you are trying to walk each day in the ocean with a strong undertow constantly pulling at your feet and that can be discouraging and exhausting. What do we say to the people around us? How do we live an authentic Christian life in this type of world?
1- We don’t have to come up with the “right words” but we just share the truth of Christ with our mouths and with our lives. Verse 5 says, “For we do not preach ourselves, but rather Jesus the Messiah as Lord, and ourselves as merely your servants for Jesus’ sake.” We are not the answer to the problems of this world. Jesus is!
2- We focus not on being perfect but on daily surrender to Jesus’ Lordship in our lives. Verse 10 says, “We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” We still mess up. But as we daily live for Jesus surrendering our fears, frustrations and weaknesses to Him, we begin to reflect more of Him in our lives.
3- We recognize and trust in the power of the Holy Spirit and not our own abilities or words. Pray daily that, “the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
4- We recognize that as we are fighting the undertow in our struggle to live our life for Jesus, others are seeing this. Verse 15 says, “All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.”
5- We know our final destination is Heaven and this world is not our home. Verse 18 says, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
The Holy Spirit is at work even when we can’t see it. His power will help you walk today in that ocean’s undertow and give you the words when you need it. Tell Him what you are facing and ask Him for help. God will continue as He promises to “renew you day by day” to give you the strength and encouragement you need to keep walking.