2 Corinthians 6:1-13(Pentecost 4)

Sunday June 20th, 2021

Trinity – Creston/Mount Ayr

Grace, mercy, and peace is yours from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Our text for today is the Epistle Lesson from 2 Corinthians 6 that was just proclaimed.

Dearest Jesus: Send your Holy Spirit to remind us that redeemed by you we have eternal healing even in the midst of our earthly struggles. Amen.

Dear Fellow Redeemed in Christ:

The new congregation had gotten off to a rocky start. Divisions over leadership and cliques had caused some issues. A sex scandal of one particular member was really challenging.

There was disorder with worship and confusion about the most fundamental beliefs, including the resurrection of Jesus. A painful visit from the pastor-mis­sion­ary who planted the church, followed up quickly by an even more painful letter from that missionary, had this church in significant pain and suffering.

They were hanging on by a thread, it seemed, when another letter arrived from the missionary. This letter, though, brought the comfort and good news they needed as it began, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction” (2 Cor 1:3–4).

We know this letter as 2 Corinthians, and the pastor and missionary who wrote it was none other than the apostle Paul. The Church in Corinth had been through a lot when they received this letter from Paul. There had been significant conflict between Paul and this church he’d planted.

In the text for today from 2 Corinthians 6, Paul is pleading with the Corinthians not to receive the grace of God in vain. Paul wants God’s grace to come to full fruitfulness for the Corinthians. He wants each and every one of them to believe in the good news that Jesus died for them, Jesus rose from the dead for them, Jesus reconciled them with God the Father, and now Jesus had given them the ministry of reconciliation.

A refusal on the part of the Corinthians to be reconciled with God, with Paul, with anyone was a real danger.

Paul notes that one of the problems the Corinthians have is that their hearts have been restricted, confined, closed off. The Corinthians have a form of spiritual heart disease.

Their hearts are not healthy. Their hearts are blocked by a stubbornness that’s putting them at risk. Paul pleads with them just before our text begins to “be reconciled to God” (5:20), and Paul likewise pleads with them just after our text ends, saying, “Make room in your hearts for us” (7:2).

Can you relate to the problem the Corinthians had? Has your heart ever been closed off to others? Have you ever suffered from a similar form of spiritual heart disease?

Maybe as you drive past that homeless person and casually roll up your window and look away? Or as you conveniently forget to do some household chore like washing the dishes or taking out the garbage, forcing somebody else to do the task for you?

You may notice this problem of spiritual heart disease any time you fail to love your neighbor as yourself.

Of course, there are many other reasons our hearts might be damaged. Some of those are things that happen to us. You may have been hurt by somebody you love, and your ability to trust has been damaged.

One of your dearest friends or family members may have died, and you just can’t understand why God would allow such a thing.

There may be a conflict between you and another person in this church that you’ve silently endured for far too long.

Whatever the case may be, whatever affliction and suffering have happened in our lives, each and every one of us, myself included, does not have a perfect heart. Much like the Corinthians, our hearts are restricted. They are not as open as they should be toward God and toward our neighbors.

The Corinthians were not left to deal with their spiritual heart disease on their own, and neither are you.

The Corinthians were not left waiting for a day when they would have access to grace, help, and salvation, but rather, Paul reminds them of God’s promise in Isaiah 49: “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Paul continues proclaiming to the Corinthians this good news: “Now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (v 2).

The Corinthians no longer have to carry around their burdens. They no longer need to carry their sin, their guilt, their shame, or the wrong done to them. The Corinthians’ damaged hearts are made whole in Jesus. Just as Paul writes in the previous chapter,

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (5:17). The Corinthians are new creations. A new heart has been created within them. Salvation, help, and grace are all theirs because of Jesus.

We inherit the same help, grace, and salvation as the Corinthians. We, too, are made new creations because of Jesus. Dear friends in Christ, Jesus opened his arms, his heart, his entire being and came down from the heavens and became a human being.

Jesus, the sinless Son of God, opened his arms and took on our sin. Jesus opened up his arms, spread them on the cross, and died for every one of your sins.

Jesus took on our sin, our suffering, our spiritual heart disease and, in exchange, gave us righteousness, forgiveness, and clean hearts.

We are not left to heal ourselves. We are healed of every affliction by our Lord Jesus. Brothers and sisters in Christ, now is the favorable time.

Now Is the Day of Salvation When Jesus Brings Healing!

There is no waiting. There is no hoop to jump through. For on this very day, you will receive Christ’s body and blood for your forgiveness, life, and salvation.

On this very day, your sins have been absolved by the authority of Jesus himself. On this very day, you have received God’s favor by hearing his word of Good News.

Yes, on earth we will still suffer. God’s people will still be afflicted by all the things Paul mentions. We will endure hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger, dishonor, and slander.

We will suffer the discomfort of conflict, the misery of broken relationships, and the agony of grief. We will struggle with imperfect hearts, but this struggle will not last forever.

We do not receive the grace of God in vain. We receive the grace of God in its absolutely unbounded fullness.

For just as Jesus is risen from the dead, we, too, will rise from our graves when he returns on the Last Day.

When he returns, our hearts will be opened wide, and we will no longer be restricted in any way. When Jesus returns, our spiritual heart disease will be forever cured. Amen.

Now may the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen.