This text is a continuation of last week, picking up from an awkward break in the lectionary. Verses 2-10 of chapter 5 fit with Paul’s train of thought about inward renewal in the midst of afflictions. Verses 14-17 are the denouement of inward renewal, a most familiar set of verses and inspiration of all things butterfly.
Paul wanted the Corinthian church to know that there was a beautiful result at the end of their not losing heart. It is the “eternal weight of glory beyond all measure” from last week’s 2 Corinthians 4 reading. Yes, times were hard, afflictions inevitable and uncontrollable, and the outward part of what could be seen was wasting way. Paul conceded these realities, but he also knew of one even greater–the power of new life in Christ. This new life could not be confined or defined by the outwardly old life. It was a whole new reality; the emergence of what cannot be seen over what can be seen. The interior didn’t replace the exterior, but was transformed from it.
I am at Youth Camp (Southwest Baptist Youth Camp, Austin College, Sherman, TX) this week with our youth and those of 13 other churches from various cities in Texas. The theme for the week has been “Authentic,” a perfect one for the kinds of self-image issues youth deal with each day. It has been inspirational to be with these incredible students who are learning in creative ways of the freedom and beauty of their authentic selves in Christ. I can’t help but think of the difference this will make in them for a lifetime.
The mascot for the theme has been the butterfly. Below is a picture put together by each of the C-Groups for worship last night.