Courtney Jacob

2 Corinthians

Longing for the Glory Days

You’ve heard it before. “I remember back when the price of gas was…” or “Life was so much better back when…(insert almost any fondly recalled memory).” Longing for the glory days isn’t restricted to those past retirement age either. I’m in my early 30s and this week alone I can recall at least 3 people my age talking about life before cell phones with great affection—like life was better back when Google wasn’t at your finger tips and you couldn’t just ask Siri or take a selfie to capture yourself in the moment, when you had to talk to people, rely on your memory, and be present in the moment.

But so often when we make statements like this, our recollections are rose-colored, tinted by our selective memories. We idealistically remember aspects of the way life was, either unaware of the real difficulties and struggles others faced, or simply forgetting the full picture of our own experiences.

Christians and the Church are guilty of this idealistic recollection too. Whether it’s music choices in worship, what the youth are doing, or when the pews were full of young families, believers often remember the past like they were the glory days of the Church, forgetting the negatives and neglecting to affirm the positives from present day. Sometimes, in these moments of nostalgia, believers even talk about a desire to go all the way back to apostolic church as it’s portrayed in Acts 2:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

What a beautiful, peaceful picture of the Church!!

Discovering the Real Early Church

We can certainly learn valuable lessons from Acts 2 about what it means to live as a community in the body of Christ. But if we take it by itself, it’s an impossible ideal. When we look only at this passage for a description of the early church, we are tempted to romanticize the truth. If we want a complete picture, we should open the Bible a little further and expand our study. What happened when the church grew beyond the apostles, when life and cultural challenges needed to be addressed?

This is the point where turning to the New Testament letters is enlightening. Apostles like Paul and Peter wrote these letters to young churches and new pastors seeking theological clarification and advice for practical application. The letters often respond to questions that each group encountered as they faithfully attempted the challenge of applying the life-changing gospel to the practical realities of their daily lives.

It’s in these letters that we find our most direct teachings about the Lord’s Supper, the resurrection, and guidelines for church leadership. It’s in these letters that we find apostolic responses to social issues of the day and clarity on issues of marriage, lawsuits, and how believers should interact with each other and with the world around them.

Earlier on Groundwork, we studied New Testament Memos, the short letters some of the apostles wrote to encourage the believers in faithful living for the gospel. Now we turn to Paul’s second letter to the new church in Corinth—2 Corinthians. The church we discover here is not as neat and tidy as the one we encountered in Acts 2.

Learning from 2 Corinthians

Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth provides much insight into the early church, preaching, and witnessing. And many of the topics he addresses speak quite directly to issues and questions that still plague believers and the church today.  

Many Christians have a general awareness that they should participate in evangelism, but lack clarity on what that evangelism looks like in their daily lives. Often churches are reluctant to address the topic of money, very aware of its sensitive nature and concerned about misperceptions.

Paul addresses these tough, but practical topics directly in ways that both encourage and empower each and every believer to witness to Christ and let the gospel shine through their transformed lives.

Join us for our Groundwork series on 2 Corinthians:

...and together we’ll receive encouragement that will strengthen our witness for the gospel and the way we live for Christ.

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