Friday, 5 June 2015

The Rev'd Robert Warren                                                                         2 Corinthians 4:13-15:1

When you're threatened enough you'll look around for something heavy or pointy enough to throw overhand at whatever opponent stands in your path. If you receive a large and unexpected bill in the post you'll dig out the bank statements to see what sort of liquid resources you have to pay your way out of trouble. You put your trust in the Bank of England, or in the reliability of a good diesel engine or maybe in Smith & Wesson. Please insert here whichever tool or resource you choose which you believe will ensure that you make it to the next point in your journey. You are strong and able. You can list the resources you have at hand to keep yourself on the top step. It may be a long list.

Anytime we generalize about the state of human beings around the world or across time and use a term like, say, "the human condition" we are usually referring to where humans find themselves when their strength runs out and when their natural goodness reaches its limit. Even calling it "the human condition" pretty well lets the secret out, doesn't it? We are not really that strong. If we are strong we tend to be strong for a season only. There is something illusory or at least temporary about the visible tools and structures with which we ensure our future.

You can't take it with you, we say.

Saint Paul wants the members of the Church in Corinth (or in Clermont-Ferrand) to look beyond what they can see and touch and to find the ground of their confidence in what God is building, invisibly, in and among and around them.

"...we look not at what can be seen
but at what cannot be seen;
for what can be seen is temporary,
but what cannot be seen is eternal.."

Paul is not writing to impractical people. He is writing to a mixed community of urban Christians - many of whom are well-equipped with earthly resources - and he is telling them that the building blocks of faith, hope, love and perseverance will build them a home. Their worship will create a
world. What the skeptic might deny has, for them, the greatest and the most enduring reality. God is making them a home which surpasses any ability they may have to fend for themselves. The strong and the well equipped are not as safe as they think they are. The weak may well not be so weak.

Learn this. Teach it to your children. Let it be a part of your discourse as Christians. It is nothing other than what Jesus taught us in the Parables of the Kingdom - that God provisions his people in ways that the world neither sees nor understands. The smallest seeds can become the greatest shrubs in the garden.