This blog offers a meditation on the Common Lectionary daily readings along with a headline from world news:
WASHINGTON WATCHES US ALL VIA GOOGLE ETC BECAUSE WE MIGHT BE TERRORISTS
2 Corinthians 8:16-24
J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
Titus is bringing you this letter personally
16-21 Thank God Titus feels the same deep concern for you as we do! He accepts the suggestion outlined above, and in his enthusiasm comes to you personally at his own request. We are sending with him that brother whose services to the Gospel are universally praised in the churches. He has been unanimously chosen to travel with us in this work of administering the gifts of others. It is a task that brings glory to God and demonstrates also the willingness of us Christians to help each other. Naturally we want to avoid the slightest breath of criticism in the distribution of their gifts, and to be absolutely above-board not only in the sight of God but in the eyes of men.
22-24 With these two we are also sending our brother, of whose keenness we have ample proof and whose interest is especially aroused on this occasion as he has such confidence in you. As for Titus, he is our colleague and partner in your affairs, and both the brothers are official messengers of the Church and shining examples of their faith. So do let them, and all the churches see how genuine is your love, and justify all the nice things we have said about you.
This is Paul back in his role as expansive team manager. He’s sending a pretty heavy squad to Corinth in the hope that they carry weight with people there, but he takes the chance to tell them in his letter what good players they are and how privileged they are to be getting them. “Yeah, well, brothers and sisters,” he’s saying, “my boy Timothy’s a top man and the other two are genuine high – end apostles, so show your appreciation and give them a bit of love, while shelling out for the Jerusalem project. And by the way, don’t let anyone suggest it’s for Paul’s holiday fund. Just to counter that suspicion I’ve arranged for one of the team to ride shotgun on me when I take it to Jerusalem. So listen up and do your best!”
But Paul has discovered a truth that all voluntary organisers know: if you put people in your debt (as Paul has done by preaching the gospel to the Corinthians and sorting out their troublemakers), you don’t get much love; but if you allow people to be in credit by doing something for you, they feel great and love you more. He wants to round off the “Corinthian Incident” with something that allows the church there to be proud of itself and to positive towards him. Doubtless the “collection” did just that.
In understanding the “practical” bits of Paul’s letters we can get close to the great missionary and appreciate his shrewd humanity and grasp of detail as well as his profound understanding of Jesus Messiah.
(Interested readers might like to consult my novel about Paul: Paul, An Unauthorised Autobiography by Michael Mair. (Kindle)