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Sorrowful Yet Always Rejoicing

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As ministers of reconciliation, we are called to re-enact the death and resurrection of Jesus as we enter into difficult situations out of love for our brothers and sisters.

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Rescue Mission of Middle GA New City Church “Sorrowful Yet Always Rejoicing” 6 June 2020
Big Idea: As ministers of reconciliation, we are called to re-enact the death and resurrection of Jesus as we enter into difficult situations out of love for our brothers and sisters.
My heart is heavy this evening as problems with our society have become plain to me and many others.
As a pastor, a father of a young black man, and a young black lady, I am seeing that for all who would stand upon the good news of God in Christ and upon His Word against injustice (some which I have even allowed to be perpetuated) – for those who stand in these circles with me, we have a heavy load these days. There is much work to be done for justice and righteousness.
And I was reminded of Paul’s freeze in second Corinthian’s, sorrowful yet always rejoicing. And that is where we take our title from this evening.
Let me also say that it is Important to look to the Scriptures in these times to hear God’s voice loud and clear.
I don’t have a lot of words prepared to say. Instead, I mostly want to read Scripture with you.
So much of Scripture has been speaking to me recently, and there was so much scripture that I wanted to share from. But with those words, sorrowful yet always rejoicing, I decided to stay mainly in the book of second Corinthians.
Pray with me…
· God we need you
· Word says to cast our burdens on you…
· Your yoke is easy, burden is light
· So help us lean on You
· Open the eyes of the blind tonight
· Draw Your children near and give us confidence and boldness in Jesus
· We ask based on Jesus’s merits, not our own. Amen.
Please turn with me in your copy of the Scriptures to second Corinthians chapter 1
You can see the outline of where we are going tonight. I ask you to be patient with me as we make application of the gospel, mostly at the end.
However, I think that as we read, we will see application also as we go.
Big Idea: As ministers of reconciliation, we are called to re-enact the death and resurrection of Jesus as we enter into difficult situations out of love for our brothers and sisters.

I. Deep affliction, upward looking faith, godly fruit (2 Cor. 1:8-12)

A. Deep affliction

2 Corinthians 1:8–9a For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death.

B. Upward looking faith

1:9b But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.
- Where should we be turning our eyes for the ultimate help and power in these difficult days? What keeps you from seeking Him first?

C. Godly fruit

12 For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.

II. Followers of Christ serve as a theater for the world (2 Cor. 4:6 - 5:10)

A. Apostles re-enacted the death and resurrection

2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.

B. Big R-resurrection, little r-resurrections

4:13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
5:1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
- How do all of these references to the Resurrection serve to encourage you to take courage to enter into the suffering of others to bring glory to God?
We would prefer to have our big resurrection, but until the Lord’s timing for that we are of good courage that God is using us for his glory.

III. Spokesmen for Jesus must speak up In love (2 Cor. 5:11-6:10)

2 Corinthians 5:11–6:10 (ESV) 11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience.
We must talk, speak, persuade others for the love of God, for his glory.
12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart.
All this talk about us has not been to build ourselves up.
13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.
Risking being misunderstood as standing up for their own glory, they are willing to still stand up and speak for the glory of God.
Why take the risk?
14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
We have been changed by what Jesus did for us! We are no longer the same, and because the gospel is true, we now know that there is something better than living for ourselves.
We know that there is something better than living for our own comfort, for maintaining our peace. We know that there is something better than shimming opportunities of carrying the burdens of another.
And that something is that we would instead live for Jesus, speak for Jesus, be a theater for Jesus so that all around us can see reenacted what it is that Jesus has done to pursue those who are downtrodden, those who are oppressed, those who are poor and needy.
Just as the gospel has come to us in power, we must reenact this gospel in the everyday things of our lives
We cannot allow oppression and injustice for those around us just because of their skin. We cannot be silent. In the same way that the gospel has transformed us, we must seek for transformation in our world.
16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh.
Hello?
Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
We must be born again. When Paul says in Christ, he is referring to being united with Christ through faith. And goes on to say that if that has happened, if we are followers of Jesus, then the old is gone and the new has come. So let us act in accordance with our new identity, not in accordance with our old identity!
18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
All of this has its roots in the gospel! That is, all of this is founded upon the life death and resurrection of Jesus. So we act in order to reenact that storyline and give the world around us a picture of what God has planned for His creation.
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Let me just say that last part again: so that we might become the righteousness of God. In other words so that we might react and display the righteousness of God here on the earth.
All around us is blindness and darkness, and God has put us here to be light in sight for those that are not walking with him.
What will the world look like if tomorrow the kingdom of God was dropped in here immediately, right in the middle of Macon Georgia?
Will there be injustice? With the hatred? Would it be ways for certain people to game the system and others to be oppressed? Not at all
6 Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says,
“In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 3 We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.
- God does not expect us to live easy lives, but to also be His representatives in difficult situations. In what situations have you done this well? Which ones need to change?

How Does the Gospel Address Systemic Racism?

Let’s go beyond conversion of individuals. Bring the light of the gospel into situations to also transform the system [help from Tim Keller here]:

Beyond indivudualism

· The gospel is not about individualism. Remember, we are guilty even before we’re born, through Adam and Eve’s sin. That’s been understood in Christianity ever since Paul wrote Romans 5. See Rom 5:15-18. So we have new spectacles to see through, and we will begin to see what we have never seen before.

New identity

· The gospel gives us a new identity. The old is gone, the new has come. Quoting Tim Keller now:
“These inner-city black communities are not empowered to do that because the criminal justice system, [Bill Stuntz] says, is in the hands of white people. And it’s particularly white suburbanites — people who don’t even live there. He makes a long list of the ways in which the criminal justice system is absolutely broken and it’s one of the reasons why black male incarceration rates are far higher than they were just a generation ago — far higher. He says it’s absolutely broken until white people begin to realize that they are us.” [Tim Keller]

New position

· The gospel gives us a new position in Christ. Rich Christians should be reminded of our lowliness, and the poor should take pride that his Father is a King and that he has a high position because of his Father. See James 1:9

Changed relationships

· The gospel changes relationships, shifting white people off of our tendency to take pride in our high social standing, but instead to do what is good and loving for our neighbor as we remember Jesus has turned things upside down. When it sinks in, it brings a new humility, new love, new abilities to listen, believe their stories, and empathize.

Destroys the power of injustice

· So it begins to destroy the power of the injustices of system and works on its change.

Destroys self-righteous pride

· The gospel gets rid of self-righteousness at being “woke”. It kills the self-focused pride that many have who are doing good things against racism in the system but doing so for the wrong reasons.
“The gospel should humble us so that when we talk about injustice, we don’t look at everybody else as the problem. May we never say, ‘We are the ones who understand these things. All you idiots that don’t believe in systemic evil… You just don’t understand, but I do.’ See, the gospel takes that out of you forever and makes you a person who will probably be more likely to persuade people. In all those ways, the gospel takes a look at corporate evil, helps us understand it, and changes our hearts and changes our ways of thinking so that we can do something about it.” [Tim Keller]
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