2 Corinthans 4:7-18

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Last message in series
Looked at the stuff that keeps us together
It is fitting that we finish by talking about discipleship, or what it means to keep us connected, abiding in Christ
Our relationship with God is what keeps us connected together
What has been the greatest faceoff you have experienced?
Godzilla vs King Kong
Daniel Larusso and Johnny Lawrence
Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker
Batman and Joker?


This passage is full of contrasts. This or that. We are given and called to live within certain sets of options. This is what we are presented with and this is how we get to live it out.
Discipleship often feels like a set of contrasts.
The world presents us with options
Christ commands and calls us to live differently
As we look through the passage we are going to be faced with a number of and/ors. Versus, if you will. But the good news is even when we are faced with a versus, and and/or we recognize two things.
Every good story has tension in it. You don’t get the great stories without a versus.

God has given us everything we need to flourish in the versus.

Self vs Christ

2 Corinthians 4:5-6

2 Corinthians 4:5–6 ESV
For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
This first one, as I have recently mentioned, is, I think one of the primary issues we are facing in our culture right now.
Who is first?
Who gets priority?
For the last 200 or so odd years, history has been answering that question with, “I am.”
I am the most important
We have gone through bouts with the Enlightenment and modernity and the industrial revolution and post modernity, all resoundingly answering the question “who is the most important” with “I am.”
Again, I am not saying that you are not important or valued or loved. But this is exactly the issue. We have equated value with power and influence. We equate value with priority. I am valued because I have expressed who I am.
It is important that we hear that the Gospel is not us and we are not the Gospel. Our proclamation is that Jesus Christ is Lord. Anything less is not the Gospel. Anything less is just us trying to puff ourselves up.
The great news is that we are not responsible to save. TO be Lord. We don’t have to do the heavy lifting of salvation.
Again I’m not saying that we don’t have a part. But we have been told that it is up to us to accomplish everything. to define everything. We are responsible for salvation, for generating everything, for creating everything. We have to define everything, even leading the defining our our very gender to our small children.
Among other things, the problem is, when we become the target of salvation, and are responsible for for everything, we become exhausted
Mental health issues are continually on the rise in America. Our youth are struggling and are depressed, angry, even suicidal.
I think it’s partly because we have asked them to bear a burden no human was called to bear. We are called to be our own saviors and we cannot sustain that. Our human psyche and spirit were not intended to sustain that.
One of the best ways we can understand discipleship, or the act of following Christ, is to stop trying to be our own savior.
We can begin that by repeating the confession of John the baptist. The teachers of the law asked him if he was the Christ.
John 1:20
John 1:20 ESV
He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”
- The first confession of discipleship is I am not the Christ
-There is now “no necessary embedding of our link to the sacred in any particular framework,”no necessary accountability to some externally defined orthodoxy. “For many people today,” he argues, “to set aside their own path in order to conform to some external authority just doesn’t seem comprehensible as a form of spiritual life.” Charles Taylor
- Great now we know someone else is. Pressure is off. We can’t save. But now it begs the question that we need to be saved. Let’s figure that out

Self vs World

2 Corinthians 4:7-9

2 Corinthians 4:7–9 ESV
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
Jeff and Cindy Whites French clay basket
This image of a jar of clay is the bridge between our understanding of self in the world. A jar of clay was an everyday item, used everywhere for everything. And Paul doubles down here and tells us that the jar of clay is us and that we contain, live in, know the power of God. But that the power is from God and not from us
Again, what can, in our culture, be taken as a slight, is actually an encouragement.
It feels like a slight because we equate power with value. Paul is not slighting value of humanity, he is telling us that we can break. And that the way to not break is to understand where power comes from.
We are given four paradoxical statement, almost versus statement.
Afflicted but not crushed
perplexed but not in despair
persecuted but not forsaken
struck down but not destroyed.
Paul is pointing here to moments in his life where he has felt these life sucking things: affliction, perplexed, persecution, struck down.
These things can feel like death, or a death. We will see that play out more specifically later on.
But we are told to recognize that even in things that feel crushing, they are not enough to crush us. This is why Paul teases out and separates the power of God from a jar of clay. Because he rightly realizes God’s power sustains Him. In fact because of God’s power we are not crushed or despairing.
Being a disciple of Christ means we will face hardships. Who doesn’t. But we face them with the strength of God almighty within us.
So even if it feels like we will never recover, we recognize that the treasure of God leads us to
wholeness (we are not crushed)
reasonable (we are not despairing)
Connected (we are not forsaken or alone)
we have life (we are not destroyed)
We feel deeply the affliction and the persecution. But we can experience the belonging and the life found in Christ. We have access to power that doesn’t belong to us but is freely poured out in our lives.
Paul gives us a more apt description in the following verses as to why.

Death vs Life

2 Corinthians 4:10-11

2 Corinthians 4:10–11 ESV
always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
This is the same structure as before. The versus. Crushed but not destroyed. The death of Jesus and the life of Jesus.
Paul strikes the same balance. But this time he is speaking more plainly.
Instead of focusing on life circumstances he focuses on the life of Christ. That the life of Christ is made known, made manifest in our own lives.
It is not just that we are not crushed or that we belong. It’s that we manifest, carry, make known the life of Christ in our own lives.
Our discipleship core is not what we can produce, it’s not what we can on our own manifest. Our discipleship core is surrendering to Christ and allowing His life to move in ours.
We acknoledge and learn how to live with the reality that the God who raised JEsus from the dead will do the same work with us. But even more miraculously so, God brings us, through all this, into His Presence
2 Corinthians 4:14
2 Corinthians 4:14 ESV
knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.
Living under His power, as treasure in a jar of clay, takes us somewhere. When we feel afflicted or crushed it feels like we are not going anywhere.
When we understand the work of GOd in our lives we recognize that He is bringing us into His presence. He is bringing us near Him.
That is the crux of discipleship. not just surviving out there but flourishing by remaining in His presence.
John 15:5
John 15:5 ESV
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Transience vs Permanence

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

2 Corinthians 4:16–18 ESV
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Paul leaves us with the “so.” MEaning because of everything I have just said. What does it mean to live with all the stuff that He just wrote.
He tells us that we do not lose heart
Even though our outer self is wasting away
Our inner self is being renewed.
We carry the very presence of God and are being carried to the presence of God.
As we follow Christ we learn to live in the renewal of our hearts over the immanence of whatever is in front of us.
it has been a hard couple of years for many of us
But even in that we can see God moving and working and our inner self being renewed day by day.
Paul calls this stuff a “light, momentary affliction.”
And that is not compared to what is going on in his life, he had a hard life.
It is in comparison to a spiritual reality that not only is God preparing us for but has given us everything we need in this life to live in being renewed by Him.
The last couple years we have seen a lot of this vers.e WE have seen all the things that can break. We have seen the reality of the treasure in jars of clay.
However we have also seen the things that do not break.
We see the Gospel that does not break
We see the love of God that does not break.
We see the power of God in the church that does not break
We have seen the resiliance of relationships
We recognize that the world has tried to break God on the cross. What was malicious human behavior carried the very plan and purpose of God.
We will, by virtue of the world we live in, contineu to see things break. That is not drudgery, it’s just reality. But we have also seen what hasn’t broken. What is permanent.
Maybe that’s why you are here. To understand and live in the permanence of God
To worship the God who does not leave or change.
To thank God for His permanence
But maybe the transient stuff is a bit louder and bigger than we want it to be.
Maybe it does feel like everything is breaking.
That’s why we do church, why we do this. So that when we feel like things are closer and bigger than we want, we have others. So after we give God the glory for being permanent. We are going to invite you to come up to pray. Others can pray that you can begin to see the light and momentary struggles for what they are and begin to see the permanence of GOd.
Maybe you have never known the God who does not break. We would lve to help you know Him.
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