Saturday, October 15, 2011

Concern for the Churches of God

And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 2 Cor. 11:28, ESV
This verse sticks out to me because of where it falls in the book of Second Corinthians. It’s the end of a list of trials and tribulations Paul has experienced on behalf of Christ. He’s been shipwrecked, whipped, beaten, stoned, in danger in all places, hungry, and cold. Then he basically says, “And, to top it all off, every day my concern for the churches of God weighs down on me.

I haven’t experienced much of anything that Paul went through in his life. Compared to what he suffered, it’s been smooth sailing. The closest I come to experiencing any of Paul’s tribulations comes from this verse, and as such it has become very dear to me.

I’ve not been involved with multiple churches all at once, but I have experienced great anxiety for the well-being of the churches I’ve attended. This most often manifests itself through concern for individual members and families that worship alongside of me.

Recently I’ve been having trouble sleeping, and not just because of the new infant at home. Some very dear friends of Hannah and mine are going through some difficulties that, as of this writing, look to leave some permanent scars on them and others, quite possibly including Hannah and me. I can’t give any more details than that because of the sensitivity of the situation.

It has driven me almost to tears, and I know it has done the same to Hannah. I’m afraid that what the author of Hebrews warns against is happening here:
Watch out, brothers, so that there won't be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that departs from the living God. (Hebrews 3:12, HCSB).
The seriousness of this warning cannot be overstated. The word here for "departs from" is also known in it's transliterated form: "apostatize". I pray that this will not happen because it would indicate that the person involved "was not of us" and we were deceived the whole time (cf. 1 John 2:19).

Yet this situation has also driven me to a firmer dependence on God. I’ve found comfort in 2 Timothy 2:11-13, which says,
…If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself. (ESV, emphasis mine).

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