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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Anxiety for the Local Church

χωρίς των παρεκτός ή επιστασις μοι ή καθ ήμεραν, ή μέριμνα πασών τών εκκλησιών (2 Cor. 11:28).  "Apart from other external things, there is the daily pressure upon me of anxiety (concern) for all the churches" (My translation).
Paul has just given a lengthy list of the physical pains that he had endured.  Apparently he could have added or expanded upon this list of things that his body had gone through.  He now switches to something that he sees as an even greater battle.  "Apart from other external things" that he could have listed there is one thing that never eased up on him internally.  The thing that robbed him of sleep or of rest was 'the daily pressure of anxiety' that he had for all the churches.  Countless things were happening in the world during Paul's time and his external body was paying a price for his devotion to the things of God, but the one thing that consumed Paul was his love for the εκκλησία (church).

επιστασις (pressure) - "Responsibility for a matter, pressure, care . . . the sense of anxiety caused by a heavy sense of responsibility" (BDAG).  μέριμνα (anxiety, concern) - "Anxiety, worry, care" (BDAG)  The antonym (opposite) for the word anxiety is unconcern.  The apostle Paul was not a man who exhibited no concern for the local church, but rather he felt the pressure daily and lived his life in continual concern for 'all the churches'.

The word for anxiety can be used negatively or positively.  Negatively it is used in the gospels to show that some of the seed that was scattered was choked out by the 'cares' of the world.  These people were so consumed with the world that they never produced any fruit of the kingdom of God.  Paul is the opposite of this.  His concern was not for the world.  Paul's heart, soul, and mind was consumed with the local churches of his day.  He was not a false apostle (2 Cor. 11:1-15), but rather he was a true apostle and this was seen in his zealous love for the local churches.

A pastor who has no love for the local church is no pastor at all.  There is a list of qualifications for being an elder of a local church (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9) and Paul would also by example show that 'concern' for the local church is also a qualification for any minister of the living God.  The Lord Jesus shows His concern for the local church in that He laid down His life for the sheep (John 10:11) and He obtained the church of God with His own blood (Acts 20:28).

The Lord Jesus so loved the church that He gave His life to obtain her.  The apostle Paul so loved the church that his life was consumed with care for her.  The men and women who have gone before us were martyred, burned at the stake, sawn in two, ripped to pieces by wild beasts, imprisoned, and hated by the world because of their undying love for the Lord Jesus and His church.

What about you?  Do you love the church?  Is your mind and heart consumed with ways to serve the local church better?  Do you look for ways to be a blessing to your church?  Do you consistently pray on the behalf of your church?  Are you the one who is always speaking positively about your church?  Examine your heart today and see where you are in your affections towards the church.  If you desire to love God, follow Jesus, be led by the Spirit, and imitate the apostle Paul then you will naturally grow in your love for the church.  

1 comment:

  1. Hey, I just came across your blog by doing a bit of blog-surfing and I'm glad I did! I've added myself as your newest follower, and I hope you'll check out my Christian devotional site as well.

    Have a blessed day!

    In Christ,
    Dakota - A Look at Life from a Deerstand

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