August 4, 2020

Losing Is Winning

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. (2Cor 4:8-12)

If there was ever a NT epistle the church in my lifetime needed it is Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. Writing to congregations that were troubled by “super-apostles” who preached a “gospel” of power and spectacle, the author sets forth the way of Jesus as an antidote to their triumphalism.

The other day, I quoted the above passage in a comment thread. One line kept reverberating in my heart and mind: “…always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.”

Unless I am mistaken, what we have here is a succinct statement of the Jesus-shaped life.

We lay down our lives as Jesus did, and through that — the cruciform life — the resurrection life of Jesus is revealed in and through us.

In response to people who were promoting winning, 2 Corinthians recommends losing.

In response to chasing spiritual highs, 2 Corinthians recommends the lowly way of servanthood.

In response those who emphasized impressing others, 2 Corinthians recommends laying down one’s life for others.

In response to a message of a “victorious life,” 2 Corinthians recommends a life that is “strong” only when it embraces “weakness.”

The contrast with what passes for Christianity today could hardly be more vivid.

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Comments

  1. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    The contrast with what passes for Christianity today could hardly be more vivid.

    Except for the Superapostles, i.e. the Televangelists and MegaPastors of the time.

    • “Respect My Authoritah!” – Eric Cartman (and the Superapostle Televangelists and Megachurch Pastors).

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        More like that one Black Sabbath music video (“Zero the Hero”?) I saw in the mid-to-late Eighties:
        “BOW TO ME!
        FAITHFULLY!
        BOW TO ME!
        IN ECSTASY!”

  2. Robert F says

    I’ve been losing all my life; but I’m just starting to learn that losing is living.

  3. Burro (Mule) says

    This is going to take care of itself. The Church is in for plenty of losing.

    • But will we learn the right lessons? That’s the question.

      • Burro (Mule) says

        He who has ears to hear…

        Of course, I think in this case losing is good even for those who don’t learn a thing from it.

    • “To conquer death you only have to die….”

      –Sung by Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar

  4. Klasie Kraalogies says

    From pain, wisdom comes, if you are open to it. But then price can be very high. The wisest person I know has experienced enormous pain to get there.

  5. I’ve been thinking a lot about what is is we die to as Christians, & what it is we live to, & how differently these can be conceived by various groups.

    In some groups you seem to die to being human, & live to being religious, in others you die to being evil & live to being good, others still die to being poor or sick & live to being rich & healthy. I’m hoping that the death is really to being self-centred, unloving & evil, & the living is to being other-centred, loving & good.

    What do others think? How do we know when the NT seems so open to differing interpretations? That fact is always a problem for me.

  6. *what IT is