2 Corinthians 11
v23 – “I am talking like a madman”
Paul is on a rant; because he is frustrated. This church that he planted and nurtured seems to make a habit of wandering off in the direction of the brightest light. They listen to and follow anyone who claims to have more authority, better skills, a more entertaining story.
The parents and teachers among us can relate to the frustration of pouring your heart into making sure that the message you teach is truth. Then that truth is ignored, forgotten, or corrupted, seemingly making your efforts worthless.
Paul finally cracks and resorts unashamedly to sarcasm. He lists and revels in his weaknesses, he boasts about all the bad things that have happened to him, he makes much of the indignity of escaping a city in a basket, all the while claiming greater authority and demanding greater respect than those he is disputing. And what about this jealousy thing (v 2) – surely that is bad? Absolutely not.
Let’s pull this all together.
Paul’s life is not about Paul – it is about Christ.
This means that anything that happens as he goes about obeying Christ is cause for celebration, because it is obviously good. Does it matter than people don’t care much for his oratory? No, because it is the message that is critical. Does it matter that cool people from the big city are preaching a different message? Only that they must be blocked because they are not telling the truth about Christ. Their status is irrelevant. God, as sovereign Lord has absolute right to demand all our attention, and is justifiably jealous when He does not get it. In the same way, Paul is jealous when the Corinthians are distracted from looking at God, not for his own status, but for their well-being.
Put all of that in the context of our culture where we are overwhelmed by flashing lights, cool toys, smooth talking people, celebrity worship, political intrigue, fascination with “mysteries”, tragedy, the list is endless. Where is truth and security? In the word of Christ. Beware of the rest, even what you are reading right now.
Personally, I pick up two things from this passage:
1) That I must be careful to be true to Christ, including and especially in time of self-doubt and self-pity.
2) It is reassuring to see someone as smart and solid as Paul struggle – he is no super-apostle but an ordinary bloke who was chosen by God, and submits (most of the time).
2 Corinthians 11