Complex. As I finish my readings in 2Corinthians, that’s my overall impression of this letter — complex. Probably because it deals little with the “simple stuff” of theology and much with the messy stuff of sociology. Less about how God worked redemption among them through Paul’s ministry, and more about the all-over-the-map responses within them to Paul’s ministry. Some even viewing their beloved father in the Lord as a lesser apostle in light of the “super-apostles” who had infiltrated their ranks (2Cor. 11:5, 12:11). In fact, some wanted proof that Christ was speaking through Paul (2Cor. 13:3). But Paul turns the tables on them.
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
(2Corinthians 13:5 ESV)
You wanna know if Christ is really in me? says Paul, then start with some self-examination and first verify that Christ is really in you. Paul was confident that if they were actually “in the faith” then they would recognize that Paul was, in fact, keeping the faith through what he wrote to them.
The big idea I’m taking away this morning? If Christ is really living in us, then it will be seen in the evidential power of Christ living through us. What is theologically true can be empirically tested. What we might be tempted to assume by default can be demonstrably apparent through detection. What we hold to by faith should be manifested in fact.
So, examine yourselves. Put under the microscope of self-assessment your faith, your character, your consistent pursuit of the kingdom. Have a look in the mirror and be honest with what you see.
Test yourselves. Prove you’re the real meal deal as a metallurgist proves the quality of the fine metals he tests. Scrutinize your talk and your walk. Through articulation give attestation of how you know your faith is genuine.
Not that their testing had to reveal a level of perfection. Rather, that their proving produced evidence of a living connection. That they were truly abiding in Christ because Christ was demonstrably abiding in them.
Apparent in their character. More like humble servants than boastful consumers. Apparent in their compassion. Tenderhearted not testy and harsh. Apparent in their engagement. Actively involved in building up the body and not just tearing it down. Contributing and not just criticizing.
Apparent in how well they knew a well-worn path to the cross. Frequent flyers in confessing the weakness of the flesh. Quick to repent because of their sensitivity to sin, as the light of Christ in them worked to drive out the remaining darkness within them. Active participants in sanctification as they anticipated glorification.
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
(Psalm 139:23-24 ESV)
Jesus Christ is in you! Amazing!
Examine yourselves. Be validating.
For self-correction. For self-encouragement.
By God’s grace. For God’s glory.