Wednesday, January 26, 2011

2 Corinthians 10 - Meekness & Power

2 Cor 10:1-2, 10-11 By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you — I, Paul, who am "timid" when face to face with you, but "bold" when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. ...For some say, "His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing." 11 Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present. 

The world constantly confuses meekness and gentleness with weakness. And so they said of Paul: "He writes big but talks small. He has no personality." They thought that meekness is a sign of weakness. But Paul makes it quite clear here that meekness is strength & power under control. Paul is by nature a forceful personality. He was the leader of the persecution frenzy of the early Jewish church, a natural bulldozer & bulldog of God. But God has transformed him and brought him under control. Like a wild horse that is tamed, he has not lost his power; only that he has now been restrained by the Lord who controls him. 

To be meek is like a horse that has been broken by its Rider, the Lord Jesus Christ himself, who now holds the reins. It's the power to stay calm in the midst of confusion and going forward into battle zones without fear. That is meekness--it is power under control. The opposite of meekness is not strength but unbridled aggression, which is actually a sign of weakness. All famous Chinese gongfu legends in China are leaders who are meek because they keep their power under control in the face of provocation (at least, the movie versions!). If we are not strong, we cannot be meek and gentle in our response to provocation. Jesus' response to Peter's aggressive response when He was arrested in Matt 26:53-54 is a perfect demonstration of meekness: "Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?" Jesus has power under control in order to remain obedient to God's purpose.

2 Cor 10:3-5 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

The mistake of many Western churches is to reduce Christianity to a psycho-social and cultural religion. Christianity has lost its edge in its warfare against media arguments and pretensions that have been raised against the knowledge of God. The Western Church has capitulated to the world because it tries to fight against it with worldly weapons viz., psychology, sociology and cultural anthropology. They have forgotten that Christianity is a spiritual and supernatural religion with divine power to demolish strongholds that enslave the minds and hearts of unbelievers. Paul writes in Romans 1:16, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." 

I am afraid the Western Church has become ashamed of the Gospel and lost confidence in its power to transform lives of those who believe. We need to restore this confidence in the spiritual and supernatural power of the Gospel to defeat all false arguments and pretensions coming from the world not because it is the right psychological  technique to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps but because it is true! That is the only way to bring revival to churches that are declining--whether in the West or in the East (especially those in mainline traditions).

Father, restore our confidence in the power of the Gospel to save and transform lives for everyone who believes. Help us differentiate the Gospel which is the wisdom and power of God from mere religion (including Christian religion) which is the product of human wisdom that is powerless to defeat the enemy. In Christ's name, Amen.

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