Saturday, January 6, 2018

Kingdom reversals

The Word for today:
2 Corinthians 11.21b-12:10
mark this: 2 Corinthians 12:10
For when I am weak, then I am strong.
You will note, as you go through the Bible, that in the Kingdom of God, things often get turned inside out and upside down.
You will find that many of these "kingdom reversals" turn our presumptions on their heads.
The kingdom of heaven has priorities that -- relative to our way of seeing things -- go beyond paradox, beyond irony, and all the way to antithesis. Oftentimes, the kingdom of heaven's values are actively opposed to ours.
When we understand this, many of the questions we have are cleared up:
Q. Why didn't God answer my prayer?
A. Well, he did! But you got an answer that you weren't expecting because God answers according to his way of seeing things and not ours.
Here's an example of what answered prayer can look like:
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know -- God knows. And I know that this man -- whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows -- was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say. To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:2-10)
I know a man, it begins. (So do we--his name is Paul!)
Paul was caught up to heaven, where he saw inexpressible things that he was forbidden to tell! (This, by the way, is the Bible's clearest hint of what the "Rapture" will be like. The word here translated "caught up" is the same Greek word -- harpazo -- which we see in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, from which we derive the term "Rapture." )
Then God allowed a physical ailment (1) -- a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan -- so Paul wouldn't think he was more special than the rest of us earthbound types! And God would not take it away, because, He said, My power is perfected in weakness.
At first, this may have sounded as strange to Paul as it does to us. But over time, his experience with this "weakness" proved to him that it was indeed a source of strength. So, it seems, he quit praying for it to go away!
These Kingdom reversals are shown all the way through scripture. In the Bible's earliest chapters, Joseph's life is a specific example of God allowing bad in order to bring about good:
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20)
But for the best example, I refer you to the cross of Jesus Christ -- where God allowed not just a single thorn in the flesh, but a whole crown of them.
(1) Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was some kind of bodily weakness or disease; possibly it may have been an eye affliction (cf. Galatians 6:11).

No comments:

Post a Comment