2 Corinthians 13:11-14 Sermon Notes

By July 25, 2021Sermon Notes

It takes just a little movement in the right direction to have a significant impact on our lives.

And a little movement can become momentum.

However, in the moment, it is hard to see the momentum in the small movements.

I’ve heard leaders say that resiliency training doesn’t work…because soldiers still struggle after going through it…even after implementing it into their lives.

They are measuring wrong…they are not seeing the power of small movements in the right direction.

*Explain the line and movement.

We have spent 7 months in Paul’s letters to the church in Corinth, today we wrap up.

We will focus on the last 4 versus of 2 Corinthians.

In these verses are some movements that can become momentum…they can set or reset relationship trajectory.

2 Cor. 13:11-14

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

There is a single Greek word in this passage that is translated differently in various English translations.

Here, in the one I read that word that is translated “aim for restoration”

In other versions it is translated as “aim for perfection.”

At first glance it can seem like those translations are a mile apart…restoration/perfection.

But the word could be used for say…restoring a broken arm.

The goal is to put something right that is broken…the aim of restoration is an aim for perfection.

The doctor doesn’t “aim” for imperfection…even though that is what is likely to happen.

“Okay, let me see if I can set this bone so it’s just a little crooked.”

It may be a bit crooked when all is said and done…but that is not the doctor’s aim.

Paul used a word that can be translated “aim for perfection” or “aim for restoration”…because the goal is the same in both.

In your relationships…aim for wholeness, full and complete restoration. 

If you are aiming for a target, you aim for the bullseye…you don’t quit doing so just because you often miss the center…you keep aiming for it.

It is the aiming for perfection that leads a life of increasing Christlike direction.

**This doesn’t mean you roll around in guilt and despair when you miss perfection (this is not “perfectionism”

It is about having relational wholeness and health as your goal…good goal, huh?

There will not be perfection in every relational action…but we aim for perfection in overall relational direction…in our relationships with God and one another.

*Not demanding perfection from others…or expecting perfection in relationships…but perfect in restoration…continually making them right when they go wrong.

When we fail one another…we continually move towards restoration…keep aiming for the bullseye.

Life together is not perfect…but we aim for more and better…and in so doing…we experience more and better.

Then he gives a few keys to living in this kind of relational wholeness:

  1. Comfort one another

The word for comfort a word that means “To call alongside”

Embedded in this casting of vision for mutual comfort is the necessity to get out of yourself and seek to understand each other.

How do you encourage someone else without understanding what is actually encouraging to them?

The very “goal” of encouraging one another…sets our minds to consider one another…not just self.

  1. Agree with one another (be of one mind)

This is not a call to think the same about politics, and public health, and social issues, and every bit of theological minutia.

It is a call to have the mind of Christ.

Phil 2:5 says we are to have the “mind of Christ”

 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

So, be of one mind means what?

Agreement on politics, social issues, music preferences?

No…it is to seek to have the mind of Christ.

The mind of Christ asks… “How do I put others interests ahead of my own here?”

What would having that “mindset” do to relationships?   

Well, it would transform them.

I heard an older British theologian speaking about another theologian who was a friend, but with whom he disagreed with on an important point of theology.

This gentle and brilliant Brit…was immensely kind and generous in representing what his friend believed.

He didn’t set up a straw man and then attack what his friend didn’t fully even believe.

He was very kind and generous when he told why he thought his friend was incorrect.

And why it was also important  him to that they remained friends and continued to talk together.

It was a beautiful thing to hear…I was less impacted by his brilliant mind, than by his Christ-like mind.

This is not to say that truth doesn’t matter…of course it does…that’s why he disagreed with his friend. 

And one of them, was in fact right and one was wrong about the issue…because things are as they are, not whatever we might think they are or wish they were.

In their disagreeing…they demonstrated the mind of Christ…they were of “one mind”

Be of one mind…hold to the truth, in a Christlike manner.

And when we disagree…do it in a Christlike manner.

*This is what, in context, Paul had in mind regarding “being of one mind.”

  1. Live in peace

Not peace as the absence of any conflict but peace as the presence of Christ in relationships

We tend to see peace as primarily absence (no conflict, no tension, no disagreement)

But Biblical peace, though it does contain some of that…is mostly about the presence of God.

This is the active presence of the Kingdom of God in the midst of relationships in the church.

When his peace is present…we just do things differently in the way we live in community.

Then what?

Then, the God of love and peace will be with you.

Because, you will be with him…you will be living, as you live this way…in the already/not fully yet…Kingdom of God.

“Thy kingdom come, they will be done on earth as it is in heaven”…is a prayer that is being answered when God’s people live this way together.

Then, a phrase that sounds a bit strange…especially to us in the days of “me-too” and “Covid”

Greet one another with a holy kiss.

This is not at all about sensuality…it was a symbolic cheek kiss. 

It was about what was then, a cultural expression of trust and relationship.

I very often, pat my guy friends on the back.

With some good friends…that “pat” is pretty firm…maybe more of a “clap on the back.”

I certainly would not do that with a stranger…I might be arrested or get into a fight. 

In fact on Saturday, I walked into an office…and I clapped a good friend on the back and he smiled…and clapped me back.

I patted a guy standing next to him, maybe more of a clap…but he is not a close friend, more like an acquaintance…he wasn’t offended but he didn’t know quite what to do with it.

He didn’t pat or clap back…he just sort of grinned a bit. 

Now if there was someone there that I was at odds with…there be no patting, certainly no clapping on the back.

His point here is that this kind of greeting symbolized some level of trust and relationship.

He wanted this for them…he wants this for us…not the kiss, but what that symbol symbolized.

This warm, trusting greeting was probably absent in a community divided into various groups, and divided by sin and distrust.

It needed to return to this kind of “warm and trusting” greeting…but as a symbol of a larger reality.

The larger reality of the symbol of the “holy kiss” is that trust relationships founded on truth had returned to Corinth.

Then he ends with the engine that powers this kind of life together.

The Triune God himself empowers this life together: Three persons, one being.

God is being who is so utterly unique…that he needs no one…to be able to express and experience love.

We need others in order to have relationship…to love and be loved. 

God does not.

Paul ends with this:

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

The Triune God exists in eternal loving relationship. 

This Triune God empowers human relationships…he makes true unity in our diversity possible.

Truth matters…it absolutely does.

We must not compromise on truth in order to have peace…there is no real peace there.

And what might look like peace without truth is unsustainable because it is not built on anything solid. 

We build relationship with one other on the solid rock of the gospel.

We hold to truth…as Paul has clearly demonstrated in his letters to Corinth…with a resolute grip.

But we do so with the mind and attitude of Christ…truth without loving relationships is certainly not living in the truth.

Navigating all this requires more than we are capable of…but that is why he ends the Triune god.

That singularity who is the Trinity…Father, Son, Spirit…three persons in one being.

Models, and empowers and delights in this kind of relationship…truth lived in loving community.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Leave a Reply