[forthright] Growing Pains: Learning from a Lack of Affection

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From: Randal Matheny <randalm@...>
Date: Tue, 01 Oct 2002 11:49:05 -0300
Forthright Magazine

Here's today's article in its entirety, from a book
excerpt by my good friend and former colleague.

Growing Pains: Learning from a Lack of Affection
2 Corinthians 6:11-7:4

by Alvaro Cesar Pestana*

If God's servant is unconcerned with the rebellious
human reaction to God, how will he have some positive
influence in the world? Will this servant lose contact
with the people he intends to help? Actually, the
disciple will be greatly influential in his efforts in
God's work in two ways: loving and prophesying

The servant's influence is not based in any supposed
"authority conferred upon me," neither in claiming a
"superior position." The idea that a servant is a
leader of the people or special representative of God
has origin in pagan concepts, not in any clear teaching
of Jesus.

The Christian ministry influences by love. See Paul's
case in 2 Corinthians 6:11-13 and 7:2-4. He makes his
appeal based on the love he has for them. It may appear
to be a weak appeal for fighting against the
rebellious, but Christ has already shown it is the only
effective one. The best means of influencing is to
serve, and to serve by death. This is what Jesus did,
and this is what we will do.

The Christian minister is also a prophet and,
occasionally, a furious prophet. This is why he does
not hold back from the truth, whomever it may hurt.
Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 are some of the
hardest found in the New Testament. It is the voice of
a John the Baptist who cries out for repentance. The
servant will influence others by acting as God's
prophet, or spokesman, courageously announcing his plan
to the people.

This mixture of lover-spokesman is uncommon, but
necessary. It is not possible for God's servants to
show love to others if they do not act as spokesmen. On
the other hand, acting as spokesman does not exclude
love. May Jonah be the only hater-prophet we know!

The literary structure of 2 Corinthians 6:11-7:4
confirms this mixture of love and prophecy. The text
begins speaking of love and affection (6:11-13),
suddenly speaks in tones of the furious prophet (6:14-
7:1), and finally returns to the affectionate voice
full of love (7:2-4).

The servant influences by loving radically and
preaching radically. He is ready to die for others and,
at the same time, proclaims the danger of death for
those disobedient to God.
*Translated from Alvaro's book, Dores do Crescimento:
Um Estudo Devocional de 2 Coríntios 2.14-7.4 (Sao Jose
dos Campos, Brazil: Revista Edificação, 1997), pp. 23-
24. Used by permission.

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