‘Comfort’ Meditations No.19: The Cost Sometimes
2 Cor 1:6 “If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation”
In various discussions I have had recently, I conclude that because the world has changed so dramatically, especially in the last decade, (although it has been happening for a much longer period) many Christians are feeling almost overwhelmed by the nature of twentieth century life. A while back we would have said those changes are predominantly technological or scientific changes but it is becoming obvious that it now also includes changes in political perceptions, business working, social expectations and a number of other things about the way we look at life today.
How many people do you know who complain that “life just seems so busy today” and that happens at all levels of society – older retired people, successful business people, business people just trying to survive, younger people trying to climb the ladder of success, younger people trying to handle the demands of so-called education (information absorption rather than enquiring mind cultivation), or those having to handle two or three jobs simply to make ends meet. It is in many ways a bizarre world today.
So when we come to the apostle Paul’s words to the Corinthians, we find ourselves challenged by a characteristic that is largely missing from modern-day living. This was Paul saying, “Big deal, so we suffer from time to time in our ministry but if it brings you comfort as you receive God’s salvation – no problem!” What is this saying, how does this fit in our present conversation?
I wonder if we have a giving attitude towards others so that they will be blessed and comforted even if it means we get put out a bit? At one end of the scale, it may mean being available to listen to another as they pour out their hearts, at the other end it may mean spending time and energy to share the gospel or going out to help the poor. Paul travelled thousands of miles to do it. A challenging example. But how might we summarize this? Th answer is to use a word that rarely crops up on modern conversation – sacrifice. It is what Jesus did for us (Lk 22:7, 1 Cor 5:7, Heb 7:27, 9:29).
A dictionary declares, “The meaning of sacrifice is the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone.” Jesus gave up his life that we might live. (Rom 5:6-8) Paul entered a hard travelling life in order to bring to Gospel to the Gentile world. It is also the call to Christian husbands (Eph 5:25) so it starts at the foundational family level and should, I suggest, act as an example for others in the family to eventually follow. Humility and servant-heartedness are essential requirements to enable us to become comforters – with a willingness to lay down our lives for others.