Growing Pains: Learning from a Lack of Affection

by Alvaro Cesar Pestana
2 Corinthians 6:11-7:4
If God’s servant is unconcerned with the rebellious human reaction to God, how will he have some positive influence in the world? Will this servant lose contact with the people he intends to help? Actually, the disciple will be greatly influential in his efforts in God’s work in two ways: loving and prophesying (preaching).
The servant’s influence is not based in any supposed “authority conferred upon me,” neither in claiming a “superior position.” The idea that a servant is a leader of the people or special representative of God has origin in pagan concepts, not in any clear teaching of Jesus.
The Christian ministry influences by love. See Paul’s case in 2 Corinthians 6:11-13 and 7:2-4. He makes his appeal based on the love he has for them. It may appear to be a weak appeal for fighting against the rebellious, but Christ has already shown it is the only effective one. The best means of influencing is to serve, and to serve by death. This is what Jesus did, and this is what we will do.
The Christian minister is also a prophet and, occasionally, a furious prophet. This is why he does not hold back from the truth, whomever it may hurt. Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 are some of the hardest found in the New Testament. It is the voice of a John the Baptist who cries out for repentance. The servant will influence others by acting as God’s prophet, or spokesman, courageously announcing his plan to the people.
This mixture of lover-spokesman is uncommon, but necessary. It is not possible for God’s servants to show love to others if they do not act as spokesmen. On the other hand, acting as spokesman does not exclude love. May Jonah be the only hater-prophet we know!
The literary structure of 2 Corinthians 6:11-7:4 confirms this mixture of love and prophecy. The text begins speaking of love and affection (6:11-13), suddenly speaks in tones of the furious prophet (6:14-7:1), and finally returns to the affectionate voice full of love (7:2-4).
The servant influences by loving radically and preaching radically. He is ready to die for others and, at the same time, proclaims the danger of death for those disobedient to God.
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Alvaro has his Master’s in Greek from the University of Sao Paulo. Translated from Alvaro’s book, Dores do Crescimento: Um Estudo Devocional de 2 Cor?ntios 2.14-7.4 (Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil: Revista Edifica??o, 1997), pp. 23-24. Used by permission.

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