As Paul closes this letter to the Corinthians he gives them their marching orders. After all is said and done what are they to do? “Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” -2 Corinthians 13:11
Looking at that list and taking them one by one this is what I come up with:
1. Rejoice. We have a Lord and Savior who is our Redeemer and friend. No matter what happens today I have great reason to rejoice-I have been made alive in Christ…all that I am is in Christ, He is my Rock, my Refuge, my joy and crown. He is my beginning and end and apart from Him I have no life. Rejoice!
2. Be made complete. When I look at my life, when I look deep within; into my heart and mind; I see so many areas where I am weak, where I am lacking. And those are only the areas I am currently aware of, I am pretty sure God will continue to reveal other areas where I need to be made complete as well. I am most certainly a work in progress. This is something I have always just acknowledged but this morning I am moved to make it a part of my prayers-that the Lord would make me complete. He is the only one who can as I do not even know exactly what it means to be “complete.” But I would rather be complete than lacking in anything.
3. Be comforted. This seems less about something I do than something I receive and yet is it possible that sometimes we can refuse to be comforted? I think so. I have been known to live in a place of fear, a place of sorrow, a place of regret, of shame. Learning to let the Lord and other people comfort me sounds wonderful, but it means I need to be willing to be comforted.
4.Be like-minded. It is a wonderful place to be-that place where everyone agrees with me. But it is an even more wonderful place to be where everyone agrees with the Lord. I am blessed to belong to a community of believers where there is great unity because we believe in one Lord, one Faith, one baptism, one God and Father who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:5-6) We take God at His word and we do not wander from it. We cannot be swayed by the world, we must hold on firmly to the Truth.
5.Live in peace. This one seems the hardest of all right now. We live in a world that is far from peaceful, even among those who profess to be the followers of Jesus Christ peace seems elusive. Romans 12:18 comes to mind, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with everyone.” It seems to me this truly means everyone-even those we disagree with. I don’t think Paul would have included it in this list if it was not vitally important. Certainly, in this day and age we can see what happens when we do not strive to live at peace-as much as it is possible for us to do so-and granted it is not always possible for us to do so out in the world, however within the church this has got to be our life. Live in Peace.
Then comes the great blessing of living as Paul describes: “and the God of love and peace will be with you.” I don’t think that Paul is saying that only when you do what is listed here that then God will be with you-though I do think that when we are living in obedience to Jesus our Lord we enjoy a sweeter fellowship with Him. I think Paul very carefully chose those words, “the God of love and peace” to remind us that this is the God who is at work within us, we do not do these things on our own. Loving others this way, living at peace with others-these become our nature because we belong to Christ and this is the nature of the God who dwells within us. We love because He is love; we live in peace with one another because He is our peace. We can never be this people if God is not with us. Our marching orders can seem overwhelming at first, but when we remember that the God of love and peace is with us, the impossible becomes possible.