Muted and Masked
Image by Couleur from Pixabay
2 Corinthians 5:11-21
By God’s grace, this year’s Annual Conference continued as a virtual platform despite the unprecedented times. God’s children can be resilient as we continue to participate in God’s work with new ways. Virtual conferencing means we need to mute our devices. Whenever we fellowship in person over a meal, we need to remember to put on our masks. In order to continue with Christian fellowship and ministry, we have to overcome these hurdles on top of other troubles we each have experienced personally this year. The Apostle Paul, in his time, also faced some serious hurdles in ministry, some of which he spelt out in 2 Corinthians. While the hurdles are different in nature, the hurdles caused them to be hard-pressed, perplexed, persecuted and to feel struck down. Yet Paul and his co-workers were not in despair. In his letter to the Corinthian Christians, the Apostle Paul uses God’s word to exhort the people of God. This is the positive side of hurdles. The hurdles in life and in ministry brought about by today’s pandemic reveal our hearts’ condition.
The hurdles in life and in ministry brought about by today’s pandemic reveal our hearts’ condition.
In verse 14, Paul reveals what keeps him going. God’s love is evident when the Father sent His Beloved Son, Jesus, in human likeness. Jesus, out of love, walked on this earth all the way to the Cross and gave of his life as ransom for all. The Spirit of Christ was given to all of God’s children as a deposit of love. Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced, that as He died for all, those who live shall no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again. Indeed, as sinners saved by God’s grace, we have received and experienced Christ’s love personally. So in baptism, we express our allegiance to God. From that point onward, we commit to respond by faith to God’s love. And all that we do in life is held together by this love of God. Whenever we want to act based on our natural instinct, Christ’s love constrains us and presses us in.
… as He died for all, those who live shall no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.
Christ’s love ought to be like a compass we use on the road trip. From time to time, we pause to look at the compass to ensure we are moving towards the right direction and destination. In the same way, as we adjust to new norms in life, we pause to examine our motivation – am I compelled by Christ’s love to do so? How would God’s love shape each one of His children today when nations are more eager to protect their own interests or people care more about their rights? How can Christ’s love be the driving force behind the work we choose to invest our time and energy in today?
Christ’s love ought to be like a compass we use on the road trip.
In 2 Cor. 5:14-21, Paul describes how God shapes our motive and mission through the hurdles we face. So, even as our circumstances continue to change, Christ’s unfailing love has not changed. God’s mission has not changed.
Hurdles reveal our motive and our mission. The hurdles we faced this year have revealed a lot about our Church. We probably know our congregation’s pattern of behaviour better today. Perhaps you gained insight into the spiritual state of more members this year, or you are thankful how some in your church have stepped up to serve others during this pandemic. How would Christ’s love continue to compel His church? How would God’s desire for all to be reconciled to Him continue to take centre stage in the church of God today? Let us take a few quiet moments to pray for ourselves and for the church of God.
… Christ’s unfailing love has not changed. God’s mission has not changed.
Rev Bernard Chng Chun Yong
Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church