I have to admit that 2 Corinthians 7:4 shocked me. Paul said, “I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.”
“I have great pride in you?” What? Isn’t this the congregation we all go to as the epitome of messed up churches? Isn’t this the congregation that was filled with division, had immaturity and weakness, botched the Lord’s Supper, messed up the miraculous gifts, accepted a highly immoral man? Yet, Paul is proud of them. How can that be?
Surely, this pride comes partially from their repentance with the immoral man. That is what Paul goes on to talk about in the rest of the chapter. But still. I mean they were clearly working on things but am I honestly to believe they had gone from poster church for dysfunction to example congregation between these two letters? I don’t think so. Yet, Paul was proud of them. He was expressing his pride in them.
Here’s what I learn, whether dealing with congregations or Christians, we look for improvements. This is a growth process, not a sprint to perfection. Sadly, we all too often treat Christians and churches like the dad teaching his child to swim who keeps backing up and backing up so the child can’t actually get to him. Sure, the person or church has improved here and there, but look at all that is still wrong with them. That is often how we think. We need to express our pride that they are improving just like Paul did. That, of course, will only happen when we are genuinely proud of them. That will only happen when we don’t see ourselves as their judge trying to fix them to our satisfaction.
I need to work on this.
Keep the faith and keep reading,
P.S. What struck you in today’s reading?