By Robert Halsey Pine
“Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth, we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case, the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So, death is at work in us, but life in you.” (2 Corinthians 4:1-12 NRSV).
Paul also says, “Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart.” Paul is more than a Pollyanna here; he is on a mission for God. Christ Jesus has so impacted him that the journey is worth any obstacle in the way. This should be our goal as well.
I find myself compromising all the time. It’s hard not to join the other side when I am pushed to fulfill human standards. If I give in, maybe it will go away. It’s hard to take a stand for God in the secular arena. The rewards, we think, are in the material world, even though we know better. If we could only be more like Paul.
If we listen further to Paul, he says, “We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth, we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God.” He counsels us here not to think that creative storytelling might be better than the truth. Not to take pride in our cleverness. Not to manipulate God’s word for our purposes. And we must turn from our shameful ways and renounce them.
Being “street smart” takes care of us in the street. Will the street be there when we run out of steam? God promises us Eternal Life. We must turn to Him and put Him in everything we do, not run away from situations but bring Him into our situations. We should make Him our constant companion. If we do these things, we will change our environment and please Him who made us. Governments may separate Church from State, but they cannot separate you from God.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.