There were some at the ancient city of Corinth who were trying to undermine the Apostle Paul’s authority every way they could. Paul had to respond because the truth of the Gospel he brought would be adversely affected if they were to succeed. But as his adrenalin flows, and he feels the inclination to fight, he decides not to fight them on their terms. They used things like innuendo, criticism, and slander. They were motivated by selfishness, pride and envy. Paul would not stoop to fight on their level with their weapons.
As an occupant of the world, Paul felt the urge to fight as the world fights. But this he refused to do. So he appeals to the Corinthian church of Christ (a church he had himself been used of God to plant) by the “meekness and gentleness of Christ (v.1).” One might have thought that Paul’s reputation would have been jealously guarded by such a church that owed so much to such a man. But in such a world as ours the things that ought to be established often seem to come unraveled. So Paul would fight, but in a different way than the enemy did and with different weapons. He would fight the lies with the truth of the Gospel. He would fight their hatred with the love of Christ. He would fight their self-sufficiency with his understanding that only God is sufficient for our walk in this world. He would fight their carping criticism with the weapon of prayer as he trusted God to do what he could not do. He would fight their pride with humility; their disobedience with his obedience to Christ; their envy with the contentment that he knew in Jesus Christ.
In all this, Paul imitated his Lord. Jesus made different responses to opposition depending on the circumstances. He didn’t wage war like the world does. If cardinal, spiritual truth was being challenged, Jesus was not shy in giving answer. He got physical with moneychangers who turned the house of prayer into a den of thieves. And though He didn’t begin with any harshness whatsoever toward the Pharisaic group, toward the end of His ministry after He had given them many, many opportunities to see the truth and change their direction He was very bold in pronouncing God’s woes upon them, extending even to calling them hypocrites and snakes who were under God’s condemnation. Yet when Christ was reviled and put to suffering, His response was silence and the committal of Himself to His Father. The result of Christ’s faithfulness under pressure was the redemption of a world.
During WWII Hitler’s army had conquered most of France with such speed that English and other soldiers were driven to the beaches of Dunkirk. With their backs to the sea they awaited death. Churchill launched an extraction strategy. He felt, that at best, they would only be able to rescue about 35,000 soldiers. England’s King George VI called for a national day of prayer. People turned out en masse to pray. What happened after that might be explained as happy coincidences. Hitler did not press his advantage. A severe storm grounded Hitler’s planes. Unusual calm came upon the English Strait. Many English ships and rowing vessels both military and private came to help. Some 340,000 soldiers were rescued! Did God honor the requests of a praying nation? What do you think? What are the weapons of your warfare?
Doug Oakes is minister at the Woodlawn Church of Christ in Zanesville; his email address is email@example.com.