Chewing on 2Corinthians 7 this morning. And trying to imagine it playing out in our modern context.
For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter. So although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the one who did the wrong, nor for the sake of the one who suffered the wrong, but in order that your earnestness for us might be revealed to you in the sight of God.
(2Corinthians 7:11-12 ESV)
Paul’s writing about the church’s response to a letter Paul had sent them before–a letter he wished he had never had to send. A letter that caused them to grieve because it called out their collective sin in failing to deal with sin in their midst. A letter, though, which caused them to grieve “into repenting” (v.9). Their godly grief producing “a repentance that leads to salvation” (v.10). Obviously not a “coming to Jesus” salvation, but their on-going “becoming more like Jesus” salvation. And this not through individualized sanctification, but each made more like Jesus through their collective sanctification as a church.
Paul speaks of this godly grief producing an “earnestness” within them, as a church, to deal with the matter. And, of their “eagerness”, as a church, to clear themselves, as a church. That, more than just dealing with the matter at hand, it was used of God to reveal to them their collective heart, as a church. Used of God to test their loyalty to Paul and to show their submission to his authority–an indicator of their desire to be obedient to their God. And this, as a church.
And I’m thinking, how would this play out in my church today? Who would receive the letter (or email)? Who read the letter? And to whom would they read it? Where and when would it be read? Would the congregation see it as something they needed to respond to, or view it more as something “the staff” needed to deal with? How, as a family, would we deal with the specific matter at hand, and how, as a body, could the incident produce a sanctifying work in us? How, collectively, would we demonstrate our earnestness, and our eagerness, to submit to God’s word and be found obedient to His way?
Honestly, while I think we might have some mechanics in place to work this, I wonder if we have the sense of community in place to truly work it as a church. In our individualistic culture, how many of us see “my church” as the church I attend rather than the family I’m a part of? How many would really see “the problem” as “my problem?” How many would view the need to act as our need to act, as my need to act alongside my brothers and sisters?
Not trying to be critical. Just chewing on how this might work today?
Thinking again of the battle we need to wage against what I fear is a prevailing consumer approach to doing church, rather than the community approach to being the church, which I think is reflected in scriptures like 2Corinthians 7.
Seeing ourselves truly as a family.
A Family that’s in it–whatever it is . . . good or bad . . . easy or difficult– together.
With one another. For one another. Because we truly see ourselves as part of one another.
In Him. For Him. As body members of Him.
By His grace. For His glory.