June 7th, 2020
Good morning church family! Today is Trinity Sunday. The day we celebrate the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, the 3 persons of God: the Father, the Son & the Holy Spirit. Yes, it remains a mystery to all of us how the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one – yet, 3 distinct persons. I can’t explain it – no one can. But it’s true, and it is a tremendous blessing whether we realize it or not.
Today’s scripture passage is a good one for us during these highly turbulent and anxious times. It is short and sweet yet packs a powerful punch. It’s an indication of how we are to behave. Yet it also reminds us of the outcome of loving God and righteous behavior.
It’s the end of one of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians. And by the way, many scholars believe Paul actually wrote 4 letters to the Corinthians, not just two, but only two of them survived. The passage I’m speaking of comes from 2nd Cor 13:11-13 and this is how it reads from the New Revised Standard Version:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”
I’m also going to read the NIV translation as this particular passage has been interpreted somewhat differently in many translations.
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
Greet one another with a holy kiss. All God’s people here send their greetings.
Let us pray…….
Just to give you a little background, in chapters 10-13 in this letter Paul is dealing with some arrogant apostles who have challenged his credibility and authority. So, one of Paul’s purposes for these 3 chapters is to respond to those very challenges.
However, here at the end of chapter 13, the end of the letter, Paul reminds them of the need to practice righteous behavior so that their experience of God surrounding them with love and peace will be enhanced. Not to mention when they do so, they will grow in spiritual maturity.
Paul begins with the exhortation to rejoice! Some of you may be thinking how on earth can we rejoice right now with all that is going on? There’s an easy answer to that question. You may not like it, but it is true. Our circumstances should never dictate our ability to rejoice – to experience joy.
As a matter of fact, we are told to rejoice always, again I say rejoice by Paul in Philippians 4:4. We can always rejoice, no matter what we are going through, when we find our joy in our relationship with Jesus Christ! Being in a relationship with Him is always a reason to rejoice! It’s helpful to understand however, that joy and happiness are not one and the same thing. Happiness depends on circumstances joy depends on our relationship with Jesus.
Paul then goes on to describe 3 characteristics the Corinthians needed to cultivate in order to enhance their experience of God’s love and peace. And certainly, we should do the same as followers of Jesus.
First, he encourages them to put things in order, to be perfected, to grow in maturity, depending on which translation you read. The word used for put things in order is a craftsman’s word and it means to be fit or restored or perfected. In other words, to be spiritually fit. To grow in the faith. To become mature believers.
Certainly, in this day and age we hear a lot about becoming physically fit, but not so much about becoming spiritually fit. Yet it is critical. Remember, we are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. For those of us who believe, our spirits live forever. Our physical bodies do not. So, it’s imperative that we work on improving our spiritual fitness.
Paul then implores them to listen to him, to encourage one another. The word used here means to walk by the side of, or to encourage or to comfort.
Certainly, we have a tremendous opportunity right now to walk by the side of our brothers and sisters who are being discriminated against, who are being oppressed, who are being deeply wounded, some even to the point of death. We can offer encouragement and love, a listening ear, a willingness to learn, our prayers, and our friendship, just to name a few.
Next we are told by Paul to agree with one another, to be of one mind. This is tough! We are all different! We think differently, we feel differently. Yet Christ calls us to unity, to be ONE body. How on earth do we do that??
I think the only way we stand a chance is to begin with Jesus. If we focus on Him, focus on loving others with His love, if we focus on having the mind and heart of Christ, maybe just maybe, as His believers, it can be accomplished.
Remember, we are not to be conformed to this world. Christians are to be different. We are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 2:2). Our hearts need purification. The practice of spiritual disciplines is critical when it comes to having the mind and heart of Christ!!
Finally, Paul tells us to live in peace with each other. I told you this was a really good Word for what is happening right now, didn’t I? Live in peace. Again, really, really difficult. It’s important to realize that there are 2 kinds of peace. There is inner peace, the peace within us, as well as peace in the world around us.
Inner peace comes from a deep and loving relationship with God. An abiding relationship with Him. It comes from experiencing His healing and wholeness. From recognizing we have been set free from sin. This type of peace is one of the fruit of the Spirit described by Paul in Galatians 5:22.
As far as outer peace goes, I personally believe it can only happen when we all have inner peace. Unfortunately, I think we will always lack peace in the world around us because so many of us don’t know Jesus. And Jesus, Himself, tells us in this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
However, as Christians, Paul is urging us to live in harmony with each other. Remember, we are to be different from the world around us. We need to seek harmony and unity at all times as brothers and sisters in Christ – as one body – as His Body.
Therefore, when we rejoice, when we seek spiritual maturity, when we agree with and encourage one another, and when we seek peace, Paul assures us the God of love and peace will be with us.
I certainly want to enhance my experience of God’s presence, His love, and His peace in my life. How about you?
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”Let us pray. Heavenly Father, we implore You to help us rejoice in You always. Help us to grow spiritually, to become more like Your Son, Jesus. Help us to come alongside of and to encourage those in need. Particularly those You have called us to take care of and assist — the downtrodden, the oppressed, the poor, the widow, the immigrant, and the orphan. Help us to agree with each other and live in peace as brothers and sisters in Christ. Help us to be peacemakers as Christ calls us to be. May we all be One Body, not only here in our church, but in our community, our nation and our world. Now let us recall the words our Savior Jesus taught us: Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory now and forever. Amen.
The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit love you and so do I!Have a beautiful Sunday and a great week!