I love it when I’m just reading along, doing my part to stay in relationship with God and He shows up like, “Hey. Thanks for meeting me here. I know you’ve been struggling with x, y, z, and I want you to know that I see that. Here’s a gift!” Words from thousands of years ago then collide with emotions of today and something magical happens.
Which is exactly what happened for me this morning in the fourth chapter of 2 Corinthians.
“For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.”2 Corinthians 4:11-12, ESV
Why don’t we take a minute to unlock the full power and potential of these verses to transform your day. Your week! Your month. Or even your year. (Kudos if you got that reference.)
Here is a problem I frequently struggle with: sometimes I’m not perfect. HA! Excuse me. What I mean is that I fall down a LOOOOOOT!!! And one thing I am unbelievably good at is absolutely CRUCIFYING myself for failing to be the perfect Christian. Ridiculous? Yes. I still do it every single day. And I have enough friends who believe in Jesus to know that it is something that we all struggle with. The sacrifice of the Son of God and the Lover of our souls is supposed to set us completely free and yet we manage to turn it into a type of bondage to disappointing ourselves.
Wow. That got away from me. Let’s get back on track!
I tend to think that there is something broken in me because I keep having to realign. It is a conscious effort every day to stay on the narrow path as much as I can and finding I’ve wandered and now have to get back on is very disappointing for me. But in this verse this morning, I find a hall pass. It has been signed by the Apostle Paul and that’s going to get me out of all the trouble I could possibly put myself in!
Here is what I read in this verse: Paul had to keep on doing it. The important word for me is that little “always” in verse 11. In The Passion Translation, the verse says that Paul and his associates “consider living to mean that we are constantly” handed to death. Yes, Paul was talking about a very physical threat when he wrote this, but it is still a great comfort for us.
Sometimes, as humans, we put WAY too much stock in the old adage “one and done”. We think that our salvation experience is that one day we walked up front/raised our hand or that other day when we were baptized. But salvation is something we must choose to step into every day and even every moment of every day. And in 2 Corinthians, Paul gives us a free pass to extend grace to ourselves when we find that we are having to correct our path because once again we have strayed from the path we want to walk down.
The true success is wanting to walk down that path.
I went looking for a quote I vaguely remember. I didn’t find it. But I found this one and I believe it to be an even better ending for this particular post. The next time you find you are having to return your mind to the straight and narrow:
“…salvation is not something that happens only at the end of a person’s life. Salvation happens every time someone with a key uses it to open a door he could lock instead.”Barbara Brown Taylor
from Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith