Pastor Don began a new series in 2 Corinthians entitled "On Him we have set our hope" with the message "Origin Stories" from 2 Corinthians 1:1-2.
It was a culture obsessed with wealth, status, pleasure and power. Mostly newly rich, along with an underclass of sex workers and menial laborers, they profited from being at the center of economic life and spiritual experiences. The culture became synonymous with hedonism and drunkenness. Anything sound familiar?
Then a traveling philosopher/teacher came along with a message of hope that forced people to look at power, appearance and suffering in a new way. He gathered followers from an existing Eastern religion, including a prominent leader. Others came from worshiping Greek gods.
He was despised by many, and after he left to teach elsewhere, other leaders arose or showed up, who looked better, sounded better, and fit the usual mold of itinerant, flashy, cash dependent teachers. They stirred up controversy, doubts and polarization in the fledgling group. So he had to return, and, when he couldn’t be there in person, sent letters, four in all, to explain his mission and his teaching. He even had the audacity to ask for money…not for himself...but for the poor back at the sending center of the movement.
The culture, of course, was ancient Corinth, and the traveling teacher was the Apostle Paul. Of those four letters he wrote, two are preserved. The fourth, and last, is what we call 2 Corinthians. And that’s what we’re studying this fall on Sunday mornings.
Our theme for this series is “On Him We Have Put Our Hope” (see 2 Corinthians 1:10). There is a great need for encouragement and hope these days on so many fronts, and the counter cultural message of Gospel driven ministry goes against the grain of grand promises and deceptive appearances. “Power” begs to be redefined by a story of glory in cracked pots and shipwrecks. Paul says that in the pit of despair, he and his colleagues put their hope in the One who brings life from death. Can you and I say that? Where is our hope in this season?