Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless, indeed, you fail to pass the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed. But we pray to God that you may not do anything wrong—not that we may appear to have passed the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. For we rejoice when we are weak and you are strong. This is what we pray for, that you may become perfect. So I write these things while I am away from you, so that when I come, I may not have to be severe in using the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down.
Reflection – Present and Correct!
As a Synod moderator, I miss day to day living with a community of faith, responding to the Spirit’s prompting to speak the Word of Life people need to hear week by week, and the thrill of seeing Jesus Christ transforming individuals, families, even communities. I’ve sometimes felt cut off from where God’s mission is happening. Until I think of Paul. He went from church to church, for some only a fleeting visit, yet here he is in a deep, meaningful relationship with people he has only previously visited twice. Yet, what an impact he had on their lives. All Paul brought and shared with them was God’s love. In all their difficulties he keeps reminding them of this. So, never underestimate the influence we may have with everyone we encounter, even for a brief conversation, and never waste the opportunity to share some of this God-power, of which Paul speaks.
Do you really believe you can make a difference, as one of God’s builders of the Kingdom of Love? Don’t worry what others are doing, but as Paul says, look only at yourself, then compare with only one – Jesus Christ, boast of only one, Jesus Christ. This is what it is to be a disciple, a learner of Jesus. Look to what you are doing well, what you are good at. To encourage the Corinthians, Paul chooses a special word, only used once in Scripture. Where it says “you may become perfect” and can be translated “fully-qualified” I pray that you too receive it, written especially for you, that you too can be fully-qualified to be a disciple of Christ. You have heard the call to follow Jesus, you are on the apprenticeship, but now you are ready to let Jesus take full control and share with him the transforming of the world. Reporting for duty – present and correct! Since a teenager, I’ve been inspired, encouraged and challenged by Theodore Monod’s hymn, I offer now:
O the bitter shame and sorrow, that a time could ever be, When I let the Saviour’s pity plead in vain, and proudly answered, “None of you, and all of me!”
Yet you found me; there I saw you, dying and in agony, Heard you pray, ‘Forgive them, Father!’ and my wistful heart said faintly, “Some of you, and some of me!”
Day by day your tender mercy, healing, helping, full and free, Firm and strong, with endless patience, brought me lower, while I whispered, “More of you, and less of me!”
Higher than the highest heaven, deeper than the deepest sea, Lord, your love at last hath conquered: grant me now my spirit’s longing, “All of you and none of me!”
The Rev’d Kevin Watson, Moderator of the Yorkshire Synod