Reading the Bible Day 311

Today's reading is a fun one because you can just feel Paul preaching to his scribe while they came up with this letter. Today continues the earlier theme of Corinthians about our bodies when we go to heaven. Previously, it was suggested that like a seed that turns into a plant our spiritual bodies will not look exactly like our humanly bodies. Today, Paul writes that our spiritual bodies will also be free of the strife and difficulty that our humanly bodies face. I remember an experience in my first year of ministry sitting with a woman in hospice in what would be her final 48 hours on earth. We chatted for about 2 hours and towards the end I asked her "are you scared?" and she said "A little, but the first thing I'm going to do when I get there is going swimming again. I miss swimming." I don't want to go down the rabbit hole of "ableism" that chapters 5 - 6 could be condemned for but I do think of people like sweet May who just longed to be able to swim without worry of her weary body holding her back. What things would you long to do if you weren't limited by weariness or injury? What might heaven look like for you? There's lots of other good stuff in today's reading too so let's get into it and see what Paul has to say.


 

Scripture to Read


2 Corinthians 5 - 6

Psalm 1

 

Audio Bible



 

Questions to Consider


  1. Paul encourages the Corinthian believers to not associate with the unbelievers of their community lest they give into bad temptations. Do you agree with this? Could it not be argued that the current trend of church to get the people back into the community of unbelievers? What would Paul say in response?

  2. When Paul speaks about prayer to God he quotes scripture that says "when the time is right I will hear you." and concludes it by saying that the time is "Right now." Do you believe that prayers are heard right away if not always answered right away? Yes or no?

- Commentary -


It's important to not fall into the pit trap of believing that Paul is trying to get away from his humanly body and encouraging his followers to drink the Kool-Aid. However, reading this canonically we do know that Paul is suffering. He spends the second half of chapter 5 talking about the hardships he is facing (but that he will endure.) Paul is longing relief but is witnessing that the relief as already been paid for in advance.


Allow me to share a story from a recent experience I took part in to draw a similar comparison. On July 24th I ran the Burning River 100 mile race in Cuyahoga Falls. For 20 long weeks I trained my body and mind for that moment and for the first 50 miles it was really fun and I felt great like everything was working as anticipated. Paul's journey as a missionary was similar. After being baptized he was going 110% preaching in different communities and even in the most uncomfortable places (like Jewish temples) and he was even reaching the gentiles! Like a race of that distance, this was new territory for Paul and for me and it was working! But then....it stopped working.


At mile 55 I hit my first "wall" and felt the weight of the race on my legs and especially on my mind. I stretched, breathed, cleared my mind, punched through that "wall" and kept going. Paul, who had been jailed a number of times for his preaching had similar breakthrough moments when he would be freed from jail by angels or believers. But Paul's persecution would not stop there. For the remainder of his life he would be followed, beaten, jailed, and threatened. For the remainder of the race (least for me) I felt the same way with a "wall" being behind every other "wall" I would break through. My legs only got worse, my mental confidence dwindled, and I was ready to go home by mile 66. I called McKinsie in tears saying I couldn't go any further. She said she was proud and told me she would waiting at the next aid station with blankets, food, and friends. From mile 66 to 73 I hobbled my way forward only because I knew that she would be there with the relief that my body desperately needed. The point that Paul is making here isn't to say "end your life because the next one is better." He is saying God's heard your pains, has said he loves you, and is waiting for you at the next aid station with friends and family. It gives us that motivation to endure hardships knowing we are not alone when we're at our worst.


 

Praying the Hymns


Our prayer for today is inspired by hymn 311 - When the Green Blade Riseth. I have a version from Rock n Roll legend Steve winwood that sounds so comforting in these difficult times. Enjoy!


Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain,

Wheat that in dark earth many days has lain;

Love lives again, that with the dead has been:

Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.


In the grave they laid him, love whom men had slain,

Thinking that never he would wake again.

Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:

Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green,


Forth he came at Easter, like the risen grain,

He that for three days in the grave had lain.

Quick from the dead my risen Lord is seen:

Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.


When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain,

Thy touch can call us back to life again;

Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:

Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

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