“Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern” (2 Corinthians 11:28–29)?
Paul had just finished rehearsing a long list of physical struggles he had endured for the sake of the kingdom of God. Beatings, stoning, shipwreck, hunger, thirst, exposure -- to name a few. As much as these things brought pain to his life, Paul had learned that they came and went. Every day wasn’t filled with such intense physical struggle and danger. Mercifully, there were some breaks in between the bruises.
But in the verses at the beginning of this article, Paul speaks of an relentless, everyday struggle in his life -- his deep concern for the churches within his sphere of influence. One gets the sense after reading through the context that, as painful as the physical struggles were, the mental and emotional strain Paul felt for the churches was a pain that reached a deeper level. Perhaps more than anyone, Paul knew the spiritual dangers that threatened local gatherings of believers. He wrote of false apostles and deceitful workers who disguised themselves as apostle of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:13). He warned of savage wolves who would not spare the flock in their efforts to draw disciples away (Acts 20:29). Of course there was also the internal biting and devouring that Christians inflicted on one another (Galatians 5:15). No wonder his concern was so intense!
Do I feel the pressure of concern for the church of which I am a part? And if I do, how would such a concern reveal itself? Does my concern for my local fellowship show up in my prayers? In my participation? In my support? Would an outsider look at me and be able to detect a concern for the fellowship I call home and the body of Christ at large? May the Lord give me a burden for the church!
God loves you!Mike