The reading of the New Testament, done humbly and with an open heart, transforms the soul and changes the thinking. Some people like to read only the gooey parts, all love and joy and happiness, and when they come across the warnings, commands, and condemnations, they soft-soap them or restrict their meaning. Others, it must be said, seem to be stuck on Jude 3.
Balance is needed. The spirit must always be humble, while courage must be ready to stand and proclaim the truth.
We make every effort to season our conversation with salt, to make it palatable to the reader and hearer, while putting forth the gospel. It’s the truth-in-love combination of Eph. 4:15. However trite we’ve made that verse by overuse (and perhaps, just perhaps, as a cloak for harshness), that great principle still shines splenderifously.
So in that context one can read passages like this week’s text, 2 Corinthians 10-13 (Monday through Thursday, actually), and verses like these:
For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will correspond to their actions.
2 Cor. 11:13-15 NET
If such passages were rare in the New Testament, it would be easy to read them lightly and hurry to the next, more positive pericope. But they are not rare. Such texts are ubiquitous, about like McDonald’s in the U.S., or your local padaria in Brazil. On every corner, nearly.
But we still tend to squirm and move on. For they bring a responsibility, a burden, a charge, to know, to identify, to remove. We know what cost is necessary, what messiness is ahead, what trouble awaits those who are willing to confront with hopes to restore, but with sad results that sometimes happen when there’s resistance to correction.
Just as there are more passages that deal with false prophets, apostles, and teachers than is often acknowledged, there are more of the wolves in our midst than we’d like to admit. We keep trekking to church on Sundays and Wednesdays and hope they’ll get tired and move on. Down the road, we discover we’re the ones who have to move on after the congregation has been lost to progressives and the debaucherous.
We wonder what happened, where and when things went wrong, and often enough the fault lies with ourselves. Afraid of falling into the class of heretic detectors, we turn away when a “different spirit” appears (2 Cor. 11:4), like the wife who refuses to see the signs of infidelity.
Two more days of this section of 2 Corinthians, then into the gospel of John, where the conflict ceases entirely and no untruths appear, right?