KEY TEXT: 2 Corinthians 13:11-14 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you... The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
KEY THOT: Paul gives his final instruction to the Corinthian believers so they may experience the "God of love and peace" in their midst. His benediction is for them to know the grace, love and fellowship of the Trinity deeper. The presence of God is felt more keenly in a gathering of God's people when their communal life is marked by heart-felt praise and worship ("rejoice"), focus on healing broken lives ("restoration"), mutual encouragement ("comfort one another"), unity ("agree with one another") and harmonious relationships ("live in peace"). In such positive and affirming community, the "God of love and peace will be with you" (v.11). In fact, Paul's benediction suggests that a community that is marked by grace, love and fellowship will experience more of God: "grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all" (v.14).
Like attracts like: when a faith community is rejoicing, healing, encouraging, like-minded and harmonious in its relationships, it will attract God's presence. God himself will be delighted to affirm such community by "showing up" in its gatherings. On the contrary, a complaining, critical and divisive environment will grieve and quench the Holy Spirit, driving Him away from the community. Such gathering will experience little divine power.
So our church gatherings must not only be seeker-friendly--more importantly, it must be God-friendly. When a church has God's glory in its midst, seekers and believers will be drawn towards it. Jesus says, "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself" (John 12:32).
Abba-Father, may You help us become a rejoicing, healing, encouraging and relational community so that You may delight in manifesting Your presence and power among us. Amen.