Paul and his companions were not the only ones proclaiming Jesus. Several other factions of Christ-followers were also roaming the countryside proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. But their theology was askew. Their practices were off. Their behaviors and words were not consistent with the message that Jesus preached. These varying groups confused communities like the Corinthians who didn’t know who or what to believe. Paul assured them that he and his companions brought a message of love and community, and that the ones tempting them with promises of wealth, prosperity, or easy lives were misleading and dangerous.
What tempts us away from the message of a loving Christ? What tempts us to pursue wealth, prosperity, or easy lives? This is something my husband and I discuss often. Years ago we decided that our money would best be spent on the relationships and people in our lives. Over the years we have attracted a number of teenagers (friends of my kids, and friends of those friends) who live at our house on weekends and summers. It can be very expensive to feed them all. On any given night our 5-person household feeds anywhere from 3 to 13 people for dinner. We go through a Mega Plus roll of Charmin every day. (Yes, one a day!) Occasionally we lament the expensive vacations we don’t get to take or the nice cars or cabins those around us all seem to have. Sometimes it’s hard to sweep and mop only to have 6 pairs of muddy shoes run through the kitchen. But then we remember we have made hospitality a priority in our household. When we grow older, we may not have memories of trips to Paris or expensive furniture. But we will have memories of the stories, laughter, and love shared around our dinner table. We will always love these kids. In the end, I’d much rather have the deep love than the high life. That’s a Christ life for us.
2 Corinthians 11:1-15
I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I promised you in marriage to one husband, to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by its cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough.
I think that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. I may be untrained in speech, but not in knowledge; certainly in every way and in all things we have made this evident to you. Did I commit a sin by humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I proclaimed God’s good news to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for my needs were supplied by the friends who came from Macedonia. So I refrained and will continue to refrain from burdening you in any way. As the truth of Christ is in me, this boast of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do! And what I do I will also continue to do, in order to deny an opportunity to those who want an opportunity to be recognized as our equals in what they boast about. For such boasters are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his ministers also disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness. Their end will match their deeds.