Click this link to hear an audio version of the below text narrated by SOTH member Jerry Rhinehart:
2 Corinthians 12:11-21(NIV)
Paul’s Concern for the Corinthians
11 I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing. 12 I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders, and miracles. 13 How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong! 14 Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less? 16 Be that as it may, I have not been a burden to you. Yet, crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by trickery! 17 Did I exploit you through any of the men I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go to you and I sent our brother with him. Titus did not exploit you, did he? Did we not walk in the same footsteps by the same Spirit? 19 Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening. 20 For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorder. 21 I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin, and debauchery in which they have indulged.
How would you feel about visiting a ministry you love which is behaving like verses 20-21?
My heart breaks when I see sin, disrespect, anger, jealousy, rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorder in the culture around me. I don’t understand how people can totally disregard what is right and wrong. But what breaks my heart even worse is when those things find their way into Your church. As the church, we are to be a reflection of Your love and righteousness. The world is watching the church closely. Some because they are searching for hope and others want to bring the church down. When Your church doesn’t look different from the world through actions and behaviors, it creates cynicism and detracts from Your message of righteousness. The church is a place to help restore and rebuild those who have sinned, not a place to accept and embrace the sin. It brings me great sorrow to witness the church live in fear. It pains me to see that the church has lost much of the unity found in fellowship, serving others, studying Your Word, and corporate worship. Help the church not grieve Your Holy Spirit. Instead, I pray that Your Spirit will anoint the church with Your power. I pray that Your people gain Your knowledge and power through Your Word that is preached and studied together. I pray that the church throughout the world will stand firm in Your Word to demonstrate Your loving forgiveness and grace. I pray that people recognize that the actions of Shepherd of the Hills matches the words they preach. I pray that Your global church stands firm and courageously leads the world into peace, love, and unity. I pray that through Your grace, more people will be saved through the confident actions of the church. Set us apart to be Your instrument. Show us Your ways and direct the path of the church to be found faithful in the midst of a faithless world. Let Your church be in the world and not of the world so it can shine the Light of Christ for all to see Your Glory! Amen