Kruiz edited
Flipped Over Into the Gospel
Monday of Lent 4
12 March 2018
God is always "flipping things over" on us. He overturns our expectations. He makes suffering the cause of salvation. He takes what we understand as dishonor and makes it an honor. He gives us honor for those things that the world considers dishonorable. He permits us to withstand slander. He tells us that such slander is to His glory. He sends us praise on the lips of those whom the world considers ignorant and immature (Mt 21:16). He tells us that His glory is made perfect in our weakness.
 
This should change how we look at weakness, suffering, dishonor, and slander. Rather than fleeing it, we should embrace it. All the more, because through the weakness of His Son He has redeemed the sinful world and drawn it into fellowship with Him. By His embracing the disgrace of the cross, He has redeemed our disgrace. Jesus accepts not just death, but ignominious and dishonorable death, the death of the slave (Mt 26:15) that He might rescue those who have becomes slaves of death. Here is why we ought to rejoice and even revel in our weakness. Our weakness has become a cause of rejoicing in Christ.
 
A band of twelve brothers, sent forth from a no account Roman province, converted the whole world, overturning all the world's wisdom and pagan religions. All without sword, power, eloquence, or numbers. There is no doubt that such ones could only have done what they did by divine intervention. God's proclamation that He had sent His Son to do everything, was being worked out in the actual events of the growth of the Christian religion. The few became many. The ignorant made wise those who thought themselves wise. The poor enriched those who considered themselves rich. Those who were dishonored brought honor to the downtrodden. Those who were slandered received God's praise. They preached the slandered Savior that He might save the slandered.
 
How deep is the wisdom of God in that He seeks to share Himself under the signs of opposites. Submariners remind us that the oceans of the world are deep. While the sea may be whipped by raging winds on the surface there is below that disturbed face of the deep a weighty mystery calm down to its still depths. While there may be great disturbances in our lives, there is a God who submerges our windblown and frantic trouble in the depths of His mysterious grace. While we are scrambling to keep afloat upon that wrathful and roiling surface of the deep, under it is hidden the polished surface of God's grace. Just as a scuba diver who looks up from a reef sees only calm, so we who have been plunged into the gospel have been rescued from the wrath of God plunged through the mirror of baptismal waters. God rescues us from what is on the surface. This the world sees, feels, experiences, struggles against. God turns it all over to benefit us. It's not bad to be flipped over, if we are capsized into the gospel and its peaceful waters.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   John Chrysostom
"'Through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise' (2Co 6:8). What is Paul saying? Is he saying that he enjoys honor, and considers it a great thing? Yes. For what reason? For to bear dishonor indeed is a great thing, but to partake of honor seems not to require a strong soul. No, it needs a strong and great soul, that he who enjoys it may not be thrown down and break his neck. Therefore, Paul glories in both honor and dishonor, for he stood out equally in both. But how is it a weapon of righteousness? Teachers that are held in honor encourage many to godliness. It is also a proof of good works, and glorifies God and is an instance of the wise methods of God, that by things which are opposite He brings in the preaching.
 
"Think about it. Was Paul imprisoned? This too was on behalf of the Gospel. He said, 'What has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear' (Phil 1:12, 14). Again, did he enjoy honor? This too again rendered the disciples more courageous.
 
"'Through slander and praise.' For not only did he bear those things nobly which happen to the body; the afflictions, and whatever he enumerated (2Co 6:3-5), but also those things which touch the soul. For these are not minor disturbances. Jeremiah bore many trials, and when he was reproached, said, 'I will not mention Him, or speak any more in His name' (Jer 20:9). David too in many places complains of reproach. Isaiah also, after many things, exhorts about this, saying, 'Fear not the reproach of man, nor be dismayed at their revilings' (Is 51:7). Christ also said to His disciples: 'Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you' (Mt 5:11-12). Elsewhere too He says, 'And leap for joy' (Lk 6:23). But He would not have made the reward so great for only bodily suffering. Often the pain is both of body and soul; but in these cases it is of the soul alone.
 
Many have fallen by reproaches alone, and have lost their own souls. To Job the reproaches of his friends appeared more grievous than the worms and the sores. For there is nothing more intolerable to those in affliction than a word able to sting the soul. Therefore, along with the perils and the toils Paul names these also, saying, 'through honor and dishonor.' Many of the Jews, also on account of glory derived from the many, would not believe. For they feared, not lest they should be punished, but lest they should be put out of the synagogue. Therefore Jesus said, 'How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another?' (Jn 5:44). We may see many people who have indeed despised all physical danger, but have been defeated by glory." 

 John Chrysostom,
Homilies on 2 Corinthians, 12.3
2 Corinthians
6:4-10

As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything. (ESV)
Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, You have born the reproach of the world, that we might be saved despite every reproach. Grant us in our day to suffer all things that we might give true honor to the holy faith into which we have been baptized. Amen.
 
For President Lawrence Rast, the faculty, and staff of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, that the Lord their God might uphold them in the way, the truth, and the life
 
For all those who are unemployed, that God our heavenly Father would endow them with a vocation suited to their gifts
 
For husbands and wives, that they might live in peace and harmony in the bonds of holy marriage
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias  Isenheim Altarpiece (c. 1515)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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