Redemptive Confrontation – 2 Corinthians 2:1-13


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2 Corinthians 2:1-11
July 26, 2015
Faith Presbyterian Church – Morning Service
Pr. Steven Nicoletti

We are continuing to go through 2 Corinthians this morning, picking up from, and overlapping a little bit with the part of the text that we covered last week.

I want to say a few things about where we’re going before we get started.

This morning we will be dealing with some fairly practical stuff. I have been surprised myself about the more practical nature of last week’s and this week’s sermons. When I think of 2 Corinthians as a book, I think of it as one of Paul’s more literary works, with more poetic language and imagery. And it is that. We will see some of that next week.

But even so, 2 Corinthians is still a book rooted in real-life, on the ground, practical issues. And that gives us a moment to reflect on a truth about 2 Corinthians and the Bible as a whole.

The Bible is overwhelmingly a theology from the trenches, and not a theology from an ivory tower. Now, don’t get me wrong. I like ivory towers. I’ve considered trying to get a Ph.D. in theology which means I am attracted to ivory towers. But the Bible is not the product of an ivory tower. It is filled with 66 books that were written in the trenches of real life. And it is in the context of seeing, revealing, and reflecting on how God works in the trenches of real everyday life that the Scriptures emerge. 2 Corinthians is a poetic book. And it is also written in the midst of real interpersonal conflict and involves real practical questions.

So let that be a reminder that God is present in the real life, everyday messes that we deal with. This morning we will read about one such mess.

So, we do have a somewhat practical lesson in today’s text, but that doesn’t make it unspiritual.

In fact, in this text we see how mundane conflict quickly connects us to cosmic conflict. So, this sermon might start off by sounding a little like a self-help talk. But it won’t stay there. It won’t end there. So bear with me, and hang in there with me, and we’ll see where this is going, together.

So, with that in mind, let’s turn to our text.

In 2 Corinthians so far Paul has started by talking about suffering and comfort. Then he turned to defend his actions by saying he had loved the Corinthians with a consistent love that saw them as they were, and that acted according to their needs. Now we are going to get to the meat of Paul’s conflict with the Corinthians, and how he wants to proceed.

With that in mind, let’s hear from our text, 2 Corinthians 2:1-13. Please listen carefully, for this is God’s word:

2:1For I made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you. 2 For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? 3 And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all. 4 For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.

5 Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to all of you. 6 For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, 7 so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. 9 For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. 10 Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, 11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.

12 When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was opened for me in the Lord, 13 my spirit was not at rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia.

This is God’s Word.

Now, as I said, this may begin sounding like a self-help talk, but it won’t end there, so bear with me.

Our text this morning is about conflict. And so I want to ask and answer four questions together this morning.

First, what do we usually do in conflict?
Second, looking at Paul, what should we do in conflict?
Third, why does it matter what we do in conflict?
And fourth, how are we made capable of rightly handling conflict?

So, when it comes to conflict:
1) What DO we do?
2) What SHOULD we do?
3) Why does it matter?
4) How can we do it?

Let’s go through them.

So first: What DO we do? What do we usually do in conflict?

I would like to suggest that when it comes to conflict, many of us tend towards either self-centered avoidance, or self-centered confrontation.

Let’s consider each of those.

First, some of us tend towards self-centered avoidance. This is where we decide not to do anything about the problem or the conflict we are having with someone else, but to just leave it alone.

Often, in our minds, we think of this as a merciful thing we are doing. We are acting lovingly. We are “turning the other cheek,” we tell ourselves. We are not making a big deal out of something.

But I think quite often it is self-centered.

I used an extended medical illustration last Sunday morning – but I hope you will forgive me for turning to medical care a couple more times this morning to illustrate my point.

But imagine with me a doctor who ran a patient’s tests and found cancer. Treatable cancer, mind you. But he thought it over, and reflecting on how upsetting the news would be for the patient, and how difficult and painful the necessary chemo would be to treat the cancer, he decided that it was best not to tell the patient. And imagine he saw this as a compassionate thing to do. He is avoiding exposing the patient to so much pain, he reasons. Surely this is a compassionate course of action.

But of course it is not a compassionate course of action. It is not a loving thing. The patient will die if they do this. The patient does not benefit from this avoidance – the doctor just feels better himself for not having to inflict the pain of the cure on the patient. It is, for that reason, primarily a self-centered avoidance that the doctor is practicing.

And it is what many of us are tempted to do in our relationships. We are tempted to leave a problem alone, to let an issue fester, all to avoid dealing with a conflict with that person. And we may tell ourselves we are doing this out of love. But often, really, it is self-centered. Because just as physical cancer left to itself will lead to physical death, so spiritual cancer left to itself will lead to spiritual death. Standing by and smiling and refusing to recommend chemo does not help the person with the affliction.

Of course an implication of this is that there are problems we can leave alone. If a doctor determines you just have a cold, or a stomach bug, the right response is often to do nothing, and let it clear up itself. And when we have a minor conflict or see a minor problem in someone, we often can and should just choose to overlook it.

But what we are talking about this morning is something more serious. We are considering conflicts that arise out of either an acute and serious sin or an ongoing pattern of sin: an acute sin, like the sudden onset of a life-threatening infection, or a growing, ongoing pattern of sin, like a cancer below the surface. Both need to be confronted.

And so an insensitive comment from a friend may not need a confrontation. But a pattern of dismissive words from a spouse probably does. A small outburst of frustration can maybe be overlooked, but a larger outburst or a pattern of outbursts probably cannot.

Yet it is often those very patterns and those very acute cases we tend to avoid. They happen, and then we and the other person retreat to our corners. And then we come back together and act like it never happened. But this avoidance is not loving. It is the refusal to confront a spiritual danger to the other person. It is ultimately a self-centered avoidance.

And if you ever think in your mind that this kind of conflict avoidance is a Christ-like option, I would encourage you to go back and read the gospels again, and really look at Christ. There is a lot of conflict in the gospels. Sometimes Christ provokes it himself. But whoever may start it, he never avoids conflict when it is possible to engage in it for the benefit of the other person.

So some of us tend towards avoidance when we are faced with conflict. We want to smooth things over, and dodge any real confrontation.

But others of us tend towards self-centered confrontation. This is a form of confrontation that is primarily concerned with our victory rather than the good of the other person. This is when we go into conflict with our primary goal as defeating the problem for our own satisfaction, rather than engaging with the other person for their good.

In his book Technopoly, Neil Postman analyzes the worldview that underlies the tendency for doctors to report in some medical cases that “the operation or [the] therapy was successful but the patient died” (Postman, 103).

Now, we know what that usually means of course. The treatment was successful in eradicating the disease, but is also killed the patient in the process.

But the wording, Postman argues, is significant. If this is labeled a “successful” treatment, it means that we are not seeing the job of the doctor primarily in terms of promoting and sustaining health, but in terms of eradicating disease. Now obviously a good doctor aims for both – but Postman argues that the language we employ shows which we give the primary place to in our mind.

If the doctor’s primary job is to promote health, no treatment that causes the death of the patient would ever be labeled “successful.” But, if his primary job is to eradicate the disease, then a treatment could be labeled “successful” even if it kills the patient – so long as it also killed the disease.

That flip in perception of the doctor’s role should bother us, according to Postman. But even more concerning is that many of us take the same view when it comes to confrontation.

We see our primary role as defeating the sin or error of the other person. That is the main goal. And so if our attack on that sin or error crushes the other person in the process – well, that may not be the goal, but it could still be viewed as a success. The goal of confrontation is seen as winning, as defeating sin or error – and not primarily as working for the wellbeing of the other person.

This view is also an ultimately self-centered view. It is a view that is more concerned with its own victory, rather than the other person’s wellbeing.

And we do this a lot. And not just with our enemies. We often do this with those closest to us.

A friend once told me about his tendency to do this in arguments with his wife. They were both intelligent people, but he had a particularly good way with words. And often, he could beat her in an argument. And he said that, in those cases, finally in frustration she would look at him and say, “Ok … fine … you’re right.” But at the same time, he said he could always almost see a little thought bubble above her head that said, “But you’re still a jerk.”

And honestly, that’s a more sanitized version of what he really expected she was thinking.

But often, like my friend, when we find ourselves in a conflict, whether with an enemy or our closest loved one, we find ourselves primarily focused on winning. On being right. On defeating the other person. And again, this is a fundamentally self-centered way to approach conflict.

And so, there are two dominant responses that many of us have to conflict. Each can portray itself as a virtue. One takes self-centered avoidance and portrays it as loving patience. The other takes a lust for victory and portrays it as a zeal for the truth. But neither works for the good of the other person, and both are ultimately self-seeking.

So, coming back to our first question:
When it comes to handling conflict, what DO we do? We often seek our own interests through self-centered avoidance or self-centered confrontation.

And that brings us to our second question. When it comes to handling conflict, what SHOULD we do? Looking at Paul, what should we do in conflict?

And first we need to point out that we should look to Paul for guidance on this. In 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul says to the Corinthian church “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” Paul, is seeking to imitate Christ before the Corinthians, and so, he says, they should imitate him. And the same applies to us. We can assume that Paul is seeking to handle his conflict with the Corinthians in a Christ-like way. And so we should look to him as a positive example.

When we look at Paul’s conflict with the Corinthians the details are unclear as to the nature of the problem. What is clear is that there was a man in the Corinthian church who was in sin. And the church was not doing anything about it. Some have identified this man with the man in 1 Corinthians 5 who was guilty of incest, but really there is nothing in 2 Corinthians that would indicate that we are now dealing with the same person or the same situation. So we don’t know. But either way, the conflict Paul faces is disagreement as to how to handle this man’s sin. So what does Paul do?

Paul responds with redemptive confrontation. Redemptive confrontation. What does that mean?

Well, the first thing we see is that it is confrontation and not self-centered avoidance. Paul considered the situation and decided that the best way to confront them was by letter and not by a visit. But he does confront them. He sends the letter, urging them to repentance. The safe move, the move that would guarantee temporary peace, would have been to leave the situation alone. But Paul sees this sin as a dangerous cancer in the Corinthian church. So he writes them a painful letter. He confronts them, because he loves them.

So he confronts them, but it is a REDEMPTIVE confrontation – not a self-centered confrontation. And we know this because written all over our text is the fact that Paul’s primary concern was restoration and reconciliation – not his own victory.

We see this in verse four. The painful letter of confrontation was not written with hot anger or with cold logic – it was written with tears of love and anguish of heart. It pained Paul to write it. We see it also in verses 12 and 13. Paul was waiting to hear back from Titus as to how the Corinthians received his letter. He was so concerned that when he got to Troas, and when an opportunity presented itself for ministry, he couldn’t focus on it. He couldn’t do it. So he left to go find Titus in Macedonia. Paul wrote with tears, and he awaited their reply with a love-motivated anxiety, concerned for their wellbeing and the restoration of their relationship.

But Paul’s redemptive approach is most clearly seen in verses 6 through 8. Since the offender has repented, Paul urges the church to forgive him, to comfort him, and to embrace him. Paul’s goal is not victory – it is restoration. And he urges the Corinthians to forgive, embrace, and restore the man.

This is the pattern of redemptive confrontation that Paul employs. He does not seek to avoid conflict in order to protect himself. He does not seek to crush his opponent. Instead, what we see is a pattern of confrontation, aimed at repentance and forgiveness, with the ultimate goal of reconciliation and restoration.

And interestingly, this approach follows the pattern of death and resurrection.

Back in June, when we looked at the first 11 verses of 2 Corinthians, we noted how Paul described the pattern that God works through as one of suffering leading to comfort, in a way that reflected the pattern of death and resurrection. But that death and resurrection pattern comes up more than once in 2 Corinthians.

Here we see it in Paul’s discussion of pain and joy. Paul speaks repeatedly in our text about the pain of confrontation. But he always positions it as having the goal of joy – the joy of reconciliation.

And so Paul’s pattern of pain leading to joy in conflict – his pattern of redemptive confrontation – is based again on the pattern of death and resurrection that we see in Christ.

In Paul’s mind, we endure suffering in this world because we know that in God’s economy of death and resurrection, suffering leads to comfort. And so, for Paul, we are willing to do the painful work of redemptive confrontation because we know that in God’s economy of death and resurrection, the pain of loving confrontation leads to the joy of reconciliation.

Paul fully acknowledges that it is a painful process to confront someone redemptively. But it is a process that aims at joy in the end.

Far from an attack or an avoidance, redemptive confrontation is an invitation to repentance and forgiveness with the goal of restoration. It is NOT aimed at causing pain for the other while shielding yourself from pain, but it is a willing acceptance of the shared pain of confrontation, in hope of the joy of reconciliation.

This means that when we experience conflict in this life, and when there is a real issue at stake – either an acute sin or a pattern of sin – then we need to lovingly confront the other with the goal of healing and restoration.

So, thinking again of our first two questions: First, when it comes to handling conflict, what DO we do? We often seek our own interests through self-centered avoidance or self-centered confrontation. And second, what SHOULD we do? We should willingly take on the pain of redemptive confrontation for the goal of the joy of reconciliation, following the pattern of death and resurrection.

And that brings us to our third question: Why does it matter? Why does it matter what we do in conflict? Why is this important?

And I want to start by considering what kind of answers people typically give to that question.

Our typical self-help answers for why we should handle conflict in a more healthy way tend to be psychological or sociological. So sometimes they are psychological. If we were going that route, I would remind you how unforgiveness or hate or avoidance all make you an unhappy and even a dysfunctional person. Other times answers are sociological. So then we’d focus on how social groups and relationships break down if there is no forgiveness or if conflict isn’t properly handled.

Now, those answers are both true. But they are not the reasons Paul gives for why the stakes are so high in this conflict. Paul’s biggest concern is not psychological. It is also not sociological. Paul’s biggest concern is cosmic.

We see that right in verses 10 and 11. From the second half of verse 10, Paul writes:
“What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, 11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.”

Paul has been focused in on this interpersonal conflict between himself and the church at Corinth. And just as we are settling into that framework, in the middle of verse 10 the frame changes. In the middle of verse 10 he switches from a zoom lens and replaces it with a wide-angle lens. And all of a sudden we see that Paul and the Corinthians are not the only ones on the field. No – suddenly we get the cosmic perspective. And we see that Christ and Satan are also on the field. In fact, they are the ultimate players.

It reminds me of the book of Job. You know, imagine you had just the middle of the book of Job. Imagine you just had the debate – the interpersonal conflict. Imagine you just had chapters 3 through 37. Chapters 3 through 37 of the book of Job are a conflict between Job and four other men, over what has happened to Job, and why it has happened to Job. It is a 35-chapter-long debate about why Job has suffered misfortune. It is the zoomed-in perspective.

But you cannot understand the book of Job with only the zoom lens perspective. And that is why chapters 1 and 2 on one end and 38 through 42 on the other provide the wide-angle view.

In the zoomed-in view, on the ground, everyone evaluates what happened as if Job was the only real active player on the field. God might respond to Job, but Job is the primary actor in this view. Everyone argues about how Job’s actions led to the suffering in his life.

But in chapters 1 and 2 we get the wide-angle perspective of what is going on, and we see that Job is far from being the only active player on the field. In chapters 1 and 2 we see that God and Satan are on the field, and they are active. We see that God has challenged Satan to look at how faithful Job is. And Satan has challenged God as to whether Job’s faithfulness will continue in the midst of suffering.

In chapters 3-37, within the zoomed-in frame, Job’s friends debate over what Job did to deserve his situation. In chapters 1 and 2, from the wide-angle view, we learn that Job has done nothing wrong to deserve this situation. His life has become a battle ground between God and Satan. And if anything, he was chosen as the battle ground because of his faithfulness.

In chapters 38-42 of Job God speaks, and his main point is not that Job’s friends should have known exactly what had caused Job’s suffering, it is not that they should have seen what was happening in the wide-angle view – that’s impossible. Their main error was assuming there was no wide-angle view. They assumed that only Job was an active player on the field. They assumed that what they saw from their zoomed-in creaturely perspective was all that there was to see. But they should have known better.

Paul says that the same thing is going on in his conflict with the Corinthians. In fact, he basically says that the same thing goes on in every conflict.

What we do in conflict, he says in verse 10, is always “in the presence of Christ.” Christ sees it. Christ is on the field.

But also, in every conflict, he says in verse 11, Satan is trying to outwit us. And, he adds – we should know this. “We are not ignorant of his designs.” he says. In other words, this should not be a surprise to us.

What Paul is getting at is that the ultimate significance of how you handle conflict is not your psychological well-being. It is not the social well-being of your relationships, or your family. It is not even the psychological wellbeing of the other person in the conflict. Those things all matter, but they are not the ultimate significance of what happens in your interpersonal conflicts.

Paul says that the ultimate significance of how we handle conflict is about a cosmic battle between Christ and Satan that is taking place in the scenes of our lives. Our personal conflicts are the battle ground of a cosmic war.

That means that when you have a conflict with your spouse it is not just the two of you in the room arguing, but Christ and Satan are lined up for battle.

And their conflict is probably more important than yours. And very often, their battle is at least as much about how the conflict plays out as about who wins.

Paul would not win a victory for Christ by avoiding the conflict with the Corinthians. He had to confront them and bring out the underlying issue, because to not do that, to leave the sin unaddressed would be to give a victory to Satan, not Christ.

On the other hand, Paul did not win a victory for Christ just by being right and winning the conflict. I mean, think about the situation when Paul is writing. Paul has already “won” the dispute. The other man has been put under discipline. But Paul doesn’t count it a full victory for Christ yet. In fact, it is at this very moment, after he has won the conflict, that Paul is worried about Satan outwitting them. He knows that if they don’t respond to the repentant offender with love, and forgiveness, and reconciliation, then Satan has actually won the battle.

More often than not, what determines the cosmic winner of a personal conflict, what determines whether the spiritual victory goes to Christ or to Satan, is less about who wins the argument and more about whether the people involved act in a way that reflects Christ (redemptively) or in a way that reflects Satan (self-centeredly). The central issue is often whether they engage in conflict like Jesus or like Satan.

So, returning to our four questions:
First, when it comes to handling conflict, what DO we do?
We tend to seek our own interests through self-centered avoidance or self-centered confrontation.
Second, what SHOULD we do?
We should love the other person by engaging in redemptive confrontation.
Third, why does it matter?
It matters because our conflicts are battle grounds between Christ and Satan, and more is at stake than first meets the eye.

Finally, fourth: How can we do it? How are we made capable of rightly handling conflict?

We know we need to engage in conflict redemptively. We know it matters, because it’s not just us and other people on the stage. Christ and Satan are also there, and the far more important story being played out in our conflicts is whether we will reflect Christ or reflect Satan in our words and actions.

But how do we reflect Christ? How do we love the other in the midst of our conflict? How do we make the sacrifice of pursuing reconciliation and restoration? How do we forgive when someone else has hurt us? How do we approach someone else with redemptive confrontation?

Well, the answer is that we live in light of the fact that Christ has approached us with redemptive confrontation.

Christ’s incarnation as a whole, and his death on the cross in particular, is the central cosmic act of redemptive confrontation. And it was aimed at us.

First, it was an act of confrontation. The scriptures repeatedly reveal our tendency to make excuses for ourselves. To minimize our sin. To put a positive spin on our actions and even our rebellion against God. The cross confronts that tendency head-on.

The cross says “Do you know how far you have gone? Do you know how much damage you have done? In order to repair it and make it right, God had to die.” God had to die. If that is not a jolting confrontation, I don’t know what is. You have messed up so badly that in order to pull you off the course you would be heading down on your own, God had to die.

That puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? If you bear that in mind, it becomes a lot harder to be judgmental and vindictive towards those you need to confront, doesn’t it?

But not only does the cross tell you that you messed up so badly that God had to die, it tells you that God so longed for restoration with you, that he was willing to die. In other words, the cross is not only confrontational, it is redemptive. It invites and makes possible repentance and forgiveness that lead to reconciliation and restoration with God.

God could have avoided us after we rebelled. He could have left us to ourselves, to sit in the mess we had made. But he didn’t. On the other hand, he could have just come down on us and crushed us. He could have destroyed sin and taken us out in the process. But he didn’t.

He chose instead to meet us with redemptive confrontation. And that is why we are gathered here this morning. To celebrate that redemptive confrontation.

If we keep that in mind, if that is a reality to us, then it becomes inconceivable for us to avoid confrontation and let someone else wallow in their own sin. How can we who have benefited so much from God’s loving confrontation of us, not lovingly confront someone else who needs it? On the other hand, remembering Christ’s redemptive confrontation of us will also make it impossible for us to confront others from an arrogant, condescending, or vindictive disposition. How can we who experienced such grace stand in judgment on someone else who needs the same grace that we do?

And so we come back to our four questions.

When it comes to conflict:
1) What DO we do?
We tend to seek our own interests through avoidance or self-centered confrontation.

2) What SHOULD we do?
We should love the other person by engaging in redemptive confrontation.

3) Why does it matter?
Because our conflicts are a battle ground between Christ and Satan.

4) And how can we do this?
We must act in light of Christ’s loving redemptive confrontation of us through the cross.

Now … where do you need to apply this in your life?

Where do you see conflict that needs reconciliation? With a parent, or with a child? With a spouse, or with a friend? With a co-worker, or with a fellow church member?

Maybe the conflict has already flared up. Or maybe it is simmering below the surface. But either way, it is there, and it needs to be redeemed.

What is it for you? I’m serious – I want you think of where in your life there is conflict that needs redemption. Where do you see it? Where do you maybe not want to see it? Don’t think right now of an example of where someone else needs to apply this to their lives – think of an example of where YOU need to apply this to your life.

What is it for you? How have you handled that conflict so far? Have you avoided it? Smoothed it over? Tried to keep the peace? Or have you gone in for the kill? Tried to crush the other person? Tried to show that you are right?

Now, what would it look like for you to imitate Paul? What would it look like for you to lovingly confront the other person towards the goal of reconciliation? What would it look like to have that difficult conversation, but to do it with your primary concern focused on the wellbeing of the other person? What would it look like to willingly accept the pain that comes with confrontation, and to do it in hope of the joy that comes with restoration? What does it look like to lovingly enter that confrontation with faith in the God who works through death and resurrection? The God who brings comfort out of affliction? The God who brings joy through pain?

And as you consider that, maybe you need to consider whether you have had tunnel vision in that relationship. How have you viewed it all through a zoom lens, seeing only you and the other person? And what would it look like to switch now to a wide-angle lens and to consider how Christ and Satan are both active on the field?

Because they are. You and the other person are not alone in the room. Satan is there. And Satan wants to destroy. He wants to destroy your relationship with your child, or your parent – with your spouse or with your friend. He would delight in seeing your child go astray, your marriage fall apart, your friendship turn cold. He delights in such things and he wants to outwit you. How is he at work in your particular situation?

Thankfully he is not the only one at work. Because, most importantly, Christ is there too. Christ is working to bring healing and wholeness, to bring restoration and reconciliation. How can you see him at work? Where are there hints of resurrection in your situation? How do you want to act, knowing that this conflict is playing out in his presence?

And finally, where are you finding the motivation to do this? Make sure it is not from pride, but from remembering how you yourself have been lovingly and redemptive confronted by Christ. Do not come to cut down in judgement, because Christ did not approach you that way. Do not leave them to themselves, because Christ did not leave you to yourself. Remember what he gave you so that you might be reconciled to him. Remember the love that he gave you so that you might be restored to health. And with the cross of Christ always in view, you can redemptively confront those who you need to in your life.

2 Corinthians 2:1-11 gives us a theology of conflict from the trenches. It is not a theology worked out in an armchair. It is a theology worked out in the midst of real people, and real hurt. And that is good. Because our lives are worked out in the midst of real people, and real hurt. As we live out our lives with those people, let us remember Christ’s redemptive love for us, and then let us seek to imitate Paul as he sought to imitate Christ, and in doing so show forth Christ’s love to one another.

Amen.

This sermon draws on material from:
Barnett, Paul. The Second Epistle to the Corinthians. NICNT. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1997.
Wright, N.T. Paul for Everyone: 2 Corinthians. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2004.

Sources for illustrations:
Postman, Neil. Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1992.

For further reading on “redemptive confrontation” see:
Allendar, Dan B. and Tremper Longman III. Bold Love. Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress, 1992.