7. There will be many reasons to lose heart, but one main one. (2 Cor.4:1-6) With the most exciting news, we will struggle with the apparent lack of response from many. It will seem as if unbelievers have their thinking veiled so that they cannot see what is being offered – and that is exactly what is going on. The god of this age is actively at work in the world, (and in the church), to keep people concerned with other things. The lack of response will tempt us to force the issue . . .
8. New Covenant ministry will always face the temptation to trust something else. (2 Cor.4:1-6) Just as listeners struggle to see the gospel of the glory of Christ, so we will be tempted to force the issue. We will be tempted to twist arms, force compliance, apply cunning, add to the message, etc. But instead:
9. Our confidence is in the God who brings light to darkness. (2 Cor.4:1-6) The God who spoke light into existence across the cosmos is the same God who shines the light of knowing the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ into hearts. He has awakened an appreciation, yes, a love for Christ in our hearts, so we will trust Him to do the same in others. Our world is full of people blinded to the wonder of knowing Christ, the very image of the good God who they need to know. In fact, our churches contain many people for whom the gospel remains a concept, but their emotions are driven more by life issues than life Himself.
10. So we proclaim Christ. (2 Cor.4:1-6) Anything else would be to proclaim our own wisdom (our clever plan to promote compliance), or ourselves. As Paul will make clear moving on, our strength in ministry, or our lack of it, is not the focus – rather it is our weakness that makes it possible for the strength of God to be manifest. So instead of promoting ourselves, we offer Christ. We speak of Christ. We present Christ. And amazingly, by the mercy of God, the light will dawn in hearts and minds both in the pew and in the populace. Jesus Christ is the image of God, he is the Lord, the supreme focus of all, and it is in his face – i.e. in relationship with him – that the riches of the gospel are to be found.
More ponderings on this coming tomorrow.