In Philippians 2:1-4, Paul discusses the necessity of maintaining relationships in Christ so a robust gospel effort can be achieved by the local church. This gospel effort is first individual, disciples of Christ making disciples.
Jesus being the Good Shepherd is one of the more familiar depictions of Christ. In John 10, Jesus refers to Himself as both the gate and the Good Shepherd. Jesus’s audience would have had the usual understanding of shepherding in mind. Sheep were a common industry in Israel, not only for clothing and food, but also sacrificed in religious worship as part of regular temple activity.
At times, God uses our senses to make His presence known (Psalm 34:8, 1 John 1:1-4). This growth in knowledge of God deepens our relationship with Him. For examples, see Isaiah 6:1-5, Luke 5:8, and 7:6-7. Job has found that theology is only the beginning; it's important, but second to our personal walk with God.
Spirit-filled people who are walking with God love and protect the church. Paul calls the Corinthians alongside to help protect their own congregation.
Psalm 133 has a simple structure around the theme of unity. In reality, unity is not as simple as it sounds. Our unity is only as good as our Savior; if we lack unity, it might be because we are not in our Savior.
As Paul rejoices in his restored relationship with the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 7:12-16, we can see three more virtues that are present in Christian relationships.
When resolving conflict between Christians, these three areas are necessary to consider: identity, growth, and humanity. Anyone in Christ must be viewed from that vantage point; therefore, we must assume that spiritual growth is happening in their life. The Holy Spirit is never dormant.
Healthy relationships are vital for the progress of the Gospel. Christian relationships in the church are founded and grown by grace. 2 Corinthians 7 is a practical chapter about how we get along in the church. We don’t get along without the supernatural work of grace – a personal relationship with Christ and growing in Christ-likeness.
A lack of healthy Christian relationships grieves the Holy Spirit. When He is grieved, He won't do much with us to reach lost people. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 tells us 4 specific ways the Holy Spirit bolsters our activity inside and outside of the local church.
As we continue to study 2 Corinthians 1, we will see what Paul's ministry meant to interdependent relationships within the church. All the promises of God for personal relationships in the church are presented, received, and fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, Christian relationships can and should thrive in Him. This does not mean there will be no struggle; but healing and progress can always be found in the Gospel. The unwavering nature of the Gospel message helps us regain spiritual confidence after conflict.
On Memorial Day, we reflect on the sobering love that gives one's life for a cause. As God's people, we must also value the service of saints in community of God, no less than we do those who serve our country. There is no greater cause than global Gospel evangelism. Sacrifices for our national freedom are great and honorable, but they are not of infinite salvific value.
2 Corinthians finds its author, Paul, defending his mission against threats to Gospel progress. His goal with the Corinthian believers to whom he was writing was to remain ministry partners even through relational difficulty while enjoying mutual comfort from God. Their unity in Christ was greater than anything that would divide them.
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