Thursday of Pentecost 4 – II Corinthians 5:1-17

1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

The young pastor had been called to the hospital room of a man whom he did not know. The patient was elderly. He was dying and drawing nearer to his death. He had asked his nurse to speak to a pastor and it was almost an accident that he had been nearby, visiting one of his congregants. The dying man had something to confess. The nurse left the room and the dying man spoke.

The old man confessed to having abused his own children. Right at that moment the words of verse 10 were haunting him. He was about to make that appearance before the judgment seat of God. The young pastor was taken aback. He had eaten breakfast with his wife, son, and infant daughter that morning. He had headed straight to the hospital to see the sweet old woman who was in there after her heart attack. That pastoral call had been so easy. They had prayed together, read the Scripture, and spoke of God’s gift of cardiologists. This was so hard.

Like a whisper in his ear, the Pastor heard the final words of this pericope. “The love of Christ controls us…that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all,…from now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh…if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” He rested in formulae that day. His stomach churned. Christ had died for this sin too.

He went home and held his infant daughter in his arms that night and wept for the pain which other little girls had endured. God’s love is scandalous at times. Jesus prayed for the men who drove the nails into his hands and feet. Paul, taken by that love, cannot but see everyone through the eyes of that Jesus who died for all, even the people we find very, very difficult to love. We do not control the scope of God’s love, God does that. We are witnesses to what he has said. God so loved the world that he gave…

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