Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses;in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of God in the right hand and in the left.
– 2 Corinthians 6:3-7
This year my wife and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. Naturally, we spent that time thinking about the beginning of our married life. Sometimes I think back to what we were like a decade ago. We really had no idea what the future held. We only knew that we wanted to be together, and that was enough for us. However, as every married person knows, marriage is much more than simply being together. There have been so many ups and downs, so many challenges and victories, so many moments of sadness and of joy. It has been the best ten years of my life, but that doesn’t mean it has been easy.
One reason God gives us family relationships is to teach us about His love and what it means to follow Him. I am reminded of the challenge of marriage when I read 2 Corinthians 6:3-13. Paul lists all of the things that servants of Christ must endure. He mentions troubles, hardship, and toil, but he also mentions kindness, love, and power. It reminds me of the wedding vows my wife and I shared, where we vowed to remember each other in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer.
Many people follow Jesus with a very emotional response. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this, but it can be a harsh awakening when the troubles of this world present themselves. Like in marriage, many find that they misunderstood what the commitment would demand of them. The Corinthian church presented many challenges for Paul, and here one wonders if they were growing disillusioned with the high cost of following Jesus. From verses 11-13, Paul even mentions that the Corinthians have withdrawn from Paul, even though Paul and his associates have committed themselves to minister to the Corinthians.
This seems to come unexpectedly within the passage, but Paul is making a connection here. The commitment we hold to God is also a commitment to each other. Not only do we agree to walk with God through all of the challenges and the triumphs, but we agree to walk with each other as well. Sometimes this is less appealing than walking with God because it requires us to trust people who are fallible. But Paul’s charge in verse 13 is one we should all heed: the hardships and the joys are richer and more bearable when they are shared with others. May we as Christians commit not only to follow Christ through whatever may happen but to follow alongside one another.