2 Corinthians 11:4–6
If a person comes and preaches some other Jesus than the one we preached, or if you receive a different Spirit than the one you had received, or a different gospel than the one you embraced, you put up with it so easily! I don’t consider myself as second-rate in any way compared to the “super-apostles.” But even if I’m uneducated in public speaking, I’m not uneducated in knowledge. We have shown this to you in every way and in everything we have done. (CEB)
In this passage Paul makes an important point that is as pertinent today as it was in his time: throughout the church we can find a variety of Jesuses, a variety of Spirits, and a variety of gospels. In fact, this is probably even truer in today’s church, splintered as we are by the Protestant impulse to divide and separate into countless groups and denominations. Though there is certainly much that binds us all together, each flavor of Christianity preaches Jesus and the gospel in a slightly different way.
Though Paul seems uncharacteristically insecure and defensive in this chapter, I have no doubt that he was fully confident in the gospel he preached and the Jesus he followed. Can we say the same of ourselves?
We all know churches and pastors out there who are overly confident that they have it all figured out. They have a list of doctrines and practices that they believe are the only way to understand and serve God. They preach their gospel with clarity, passion, and vigor. They claim that every other approach is misguided at best and heresy at worst. For many of us, this is not an attractive form of Christianity.
But progressive mainline Protestants like us sometimes overcompensate in the opposite direction. Our open and less dogmatic approach to faith often results in a lack of clarity about what we actually believe about Jesus. Our gospel is not well articulated and communicated.
Like Paul, let us not be intimidated by the other gospels out there. Let’s do the hard work of articulating the gospel we know in our hearts and be confident in the message and mission we believe God has entrusted to us.
Help me, God, to listen carefully to your voice in my life. Help me to be confident and articulate as I share your good news of love and redemption, in words and in actions, in all that I do. Amen.
This is today’s Fourth Church Daily Devotion, part of our congregational project of reading through the Bible in 2012.