Pray: To open your time together.
Read: 2 Corinthians 4
Consider: Some thoughts for your group
Paul writes his letter to the church in Corinth as an encouragement to a young and diverse church body amid a challenging cultural community. The city of Corinth was a key economic center for many nations and because of that it welcomed a wide array of cultural and religious expressions.
Nestled in the midst of all of this diversity was a small group of people following “the way”. Paul and Jesus’ disciples spread word of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus through the known world, and accompanying the message of the gospel was the hope that was ushered in with the kingdom of God. As we see in the letters to this young group of churches, the fine line between hope and despair was ever present.
In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul leans into two distinct ideas regarding our journey as people following the way of Jesus: 1) We are pressed, but not crushed; 2) We keep an eternal mindset, and don’t lose heart in the day to day struggle.
To live into this kind of faith journey the early church had to cling to the hope promised in Jesus amidst a world that seemed to be distant and perhaps even in conflict with the kingdom of God.
“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, in the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever. – 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18, the Message translation.
- Do you resonate with the Corinthians churches challenge to be light in a dark place? Talk about the places you experience the light of God in your current world. Where does the darkness seem to be winning?
- Do you feel more hopeful or discouraged at the start of 2022? What is hopeful? What is discouraging?
- Read Paul’s words from 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 aloud in your group. As you hear these word, what stands out to you?
What might God be doing in the midst of your challenging situation? Is God inviting you to learn something new or to grow in faith right now? Paul says, “We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”. What might we be missing by focusing only on what we can see right now?
Spend some time praying for one another for the week ahead and pray for a renewed sense of hope in God’s plan for each of our lives. If anyone feels especially discouraged in their current circumstances pray for the eternal hope in Christ and in God’s work of making all things new.