The Smell of Death For The Hope of Life

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;  always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” (2 Cor 4-7-10)

I am not positive what all Paul intended when he said:

“…. always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. “

Clearly Paul is at least referring to the persecution that he suffered for the sake of the gospel and with that the nearness and tenderness of the presence of Jesus in those sufferings. Over and over again in Paul’s life Jesus showed up at the darkest of times. Acts 9, Acts 22:17-21, Acts 19:9-10 describe some. In Acts 23:11 Paul is waiting his trial and Luke records

“The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”  (Acts 23:11)

At the end of Paul’s life he could say this:

“At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.” (2Ti 4:16-17)

So Paul’s life was one of suffering (ie. carrying about death) and in the midst of that discovering the presence of Jesus (ie. the life of Jesus). But I think the original verses in 2 Cor 4:7-10 means more than that and it’s meaning carries big weight in how ministry is to be done.

Again Paul says this:

“…. always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. “ (2 Cor 4:7-10)

There is a burden to ministry and that is this: we are dealing with a world that is dying and people that are dying (technically dead spiritually) and even redeemed people that still feel the temporary pangs of a creation that is dying. Death is all around us and those that choose to dive deep into ministry choose to wear the stench of death day in and day out. But we do that in this hope:

“…. always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. “ (2 Cor 4:7-10)

The hope is LIFE! We get near to death because we believe in LIFE: LIFE that is brought by the gospel, LIFE that is won by the cross, LIFE that is secured by the resurrection, LIFE that is abundant and eternal and joy-filled and eminates from the LIFE of JESUS.

The hope for LIFE finds it’s greatest impulse around death and ministries and churches and believers that want to be driven with a hope to see LIFE should be near, often near death. That means engaging in a dying world, that means getting hands dirty, that means activity within the walls of the church to know the life of Jesus and activity outside the walls of the church to know the death of the dying. A believer that is “alive” and vibrant is a  believer that knows both experiences intimately. That is true of the life of a believers and that is true of the life of a church.

CT Studd said this:

’Some people love to dwell near church with choir and steeple bell. But I want to run a rescue station a yard from the gates of hell.’ 

I say let me “dwell near church with choir and steeple bell”, only move it next to the gates of hell.

“…. always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. “ (2 Cor 4:7-10) 

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