Psalm 96:1-9; 1 Kings 6:23-38; 2 Corinthians 5:11-17
It’s political season again. Actually, I don’t think it ever ends, but during election times, the discussion really heats up. Let’s face it, if we really believed everything that the opposition said about the candidates we would be in complete awe that our government is still able to function. The mudslinging we see in the ads brings us to the point where we aren’t voting for one person so much as voting against the other.
The message that Paul was preaching was often muddled up by the attacks on his character. He was attacked by those opposed to Christ because the message changed people’s lives and took them away from their old way of life. He was attacked by fellow believers because even back in the early church, there were power plays. One of the accusations was that Paul was a fool. He was considered to be “out of his mind.” Paul kept to the high road and appealed to the Corinthian Church with the message that he preached. “Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.” (1 Corinthians 5:11)
Paul didn’t respond to attacks on his character with attacks on the other guys. He responded by saying something like, “sure, I’m out of my mind to be a better witness for God. I’m a fool? Sure, I’m a fool for Christ.” He did that because he knew that the message he was preaching wasn’t about him; it was about the love and grace of Jesus Christ. When the message you proclaim as most important is about forgiveness, it really wouldn’t make sense to blast your critics, would it? Paul avoided that trap with a reminder that his goal was to persuade others to come to Christ. He kept that goal in the forefront of his mind so that he wouldn’t be distracted by personal attacks. In fact, those people who were attacking him needed Christ all the more.
The message we have as followers of Christ is the same that Paul had. We try to persuade others to fear the Lord. (Fear meaning to show awe and reverence here.) It is a message of reconciliation between man and God. Imagine the power in that message: we’ve done wrong (sin), but the Creator of the Universe has made it possible to be friends with Him. Jesus paid the penalty for our sin and we can be at peace with God. All the other messages that are being preached today, all the ridicule that Christians may endure, all the persecutions that Christians around the world may face are nothing compared to this amazing message. Live it! Share it!
Almighty Creator of the Universe, it is beyond wonder that You love me so much that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins and that You did this for everyone. Help me to live this message of reconciliation every day. Help me to share this amazing message of love with others, especially those opposed to me.