Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Paul, the Weak Apostle

Look at what is before your eyes. If anyone is confident that he is Christ's, let him remind himself that just as he is Christ's, so also are we. For even if I boast a little too much of our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed. I do not want to appear to be frightening you with my letters. For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.” Let such a person understand that what we say by letter when absent, we do when present.  Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. [2 Corinthians 10:7-12]
How does a leader gain his authority? Why should any Christian accept the word, the action and direction of a man of God? Must he earn it?

The Corinthian church was struggling with Paul's ministry as an apostle through the attack of so-called "super-apostles." These men presumed a position higher than the Lord's apostles and attacked the work of Paul by many fronts. [2 Cor 11-12] They accused him of not being genuine since he didn't charge for his "uneloquent" preaching. They claimed he wasn't really an apostle because he couldn't produce his letters of recommendation the way they could [2 Cor 3:1]. These men were boasting about appearance instead of what was in the heart [2 Cor 5:12].

Paul responded by saying that if he so desired, he would actually have plenty of pedigree in which to boast. But he did not stand on that, and actually said that it would be madness--pure folly--to place confidence in those things [2 Cor 11:16-29, 2 Cor 12:1-11].

Whom, then, should we follow? Those whom the Lord has called. If you place your trust in a man because of his accomplishments, you will ultimately be disappointed. More importantly, you are following a different gospel--one opposed to Jesus Christ. No man is sufficient in himself, and that's as true for spiritual work and office as much as it's true for salvation.

Paul gives severe warning for the kind of leader who stands on his on commendation (and after writing his letter will be having words with them [2 Cor 10:2, 2 Cor 13:2-3]):
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. [2 Cor 11:13-15]
A leader's basis and very sufficiency must be in Christ. Just as we are saved in Christ alone, so any Christian leads in Christ alone. For God did not call the strong and the powerful, but the weak and dependent. This is true for salvation (Mark 2:17, Matt 5); this is true for service. The Corinthian church should have known this, but they forgot the message Paul gave them in his previous letter:
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” [1 Cor 1:27-31]
A leader does not command authority on his own basis, nor on the basis of his works, nor on the basis of man's commendation. No, his only confidence and sufficiency is in Christ alone, by the call of God alone:
Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. [2 Corinthians 3:4-6]
For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. [2 Corinthians 10:18]
What type of leader do you desire? Whom will you follow? Saul, or David? Hananiah, or Jeremiah? Caesar, or Christ?

No comments:

Post a Comment