Lectionary Year B
July 2, 2000
II Corinthians 8:7-15

Step V: Hermeneutical Bridge


Paul begins with the need in mind of the relief of the church in Jerusalem and the unity of the church of Jesus Christ. As usual, Paul weaves his theology into the cause he is promoting. His observation about the willingness of Christ to take on our poverty is the weightest of the sayings in this passage. The theological center of gravity is v. 9, the example of Christ's giving. The pre-existent Christ left the riches of glory to journey in our poverty so that we, the truly impoverished ones, might know and enjoy the riches of God.

. A consideration of this powerful illustration leads Paul to challenge us to be instructed by the example of Christ. If the eagerness is present, the gift is acceptable to God according to what one has, not according to what one does not have. Giving is a personal thing. Paul does not call it giving, he calls it grace! It is the grace of God that prompts the giving of our substance! It is not by command that we are required to give, it is by love that we are urged to give for the glory of God.

The example of the Pennsylvania Church on NPR. Giving out $10,000 returned $62,000. The parable of the Talents that church needed a parable. The parable came alive in their fellowship. Back up your words with deeds! The confluence of words and deeds is sometimes called integrity. Paul urges the church (and who is the church?) to let their integrity find expression in this act of grace. Where are our words? Some are found in our pledges of support. Also in the question put to every member: Do you promise to support and participate in the work and worship of the church to the best of your ability? I do. This is my solemn vow before God. Yet there things that keep us from supporting and participating to the best of our abilities. The grace of God abounds in us, but grace could overflow in great thanksgiving to God!

The gift has a purpose -- to meet a need, to nourish the body of Christ, to enable the Body of Christ to do its ministry in the world. The Body of Christ still has the mission of revealing Christ to the world.

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