September 16: 2 Cor 5
September 16, 2010
One of the common cliches of the modern evangelical church is that the church in the past has been too heavenly minded and we need to focus on creation and claiming it for Christ - whether we conceive of that as art, movies, politics or whatever. As an aside, it always interests me that such people generally only talk about claiming interesting things for Christ - supermarkets, public transport, and trash collection have not, as far as I recall, been the subject of `Christianity and Culture' conferences.
In this context, it is worth asking whether all of the concern for Christianity and culture is a function of the affluence of contemporary society. 2 Corinthians 5 is quite instructive here. If ever there was a chapter in the Bible in which a heavenly-minded vision is laid out, it is surely this one. Writing out of a ministry which involves acute suffering, mental, emotional, and physical, Paul expresses his longing to be with the Lord in heaven and, beyond that, to receive his glorious resurrection body. Indeed, it is this hope which actually makes the unpleasantness of his earthly pilgrimage both bearable and worthwhile; and the focus is not on himself and his work, but on Christ.
This is why, in the latter part of the chapter, Paul turns his attention to Christ. Yes, he could have spent his time outlining his own plans or looking to claiming this or that bit of the culture for Christ or proclaiming that, if his political party do not achieve power, the world is going to the dogs. Rather, he focuses on Christ, his person, his work, and the reconciliation effected in his name; and then he points to how this changes everything. No longer is the world to be judged according to the flesh. The only thing that really counts is whether one is in Christ or not.
That may not impress the culture vultures; but it is Pauline Christianity