by Christopher Harbin

Examples in Everything
Christopher B. Harbin
2 Corinthians 6:3-13

Our cultural myths place various examples before us. Our fairy tales, the stories we tell, the movies we watch, the songs we sing, and the books we read set before us heroes who tell us what we want to hear. They give us examples of the values we seek to find in our lives. We want to become like the heroes of our stories, regardless of whether the examples set before us are honest possibilities. We hold out the examples of our cultural myths that give us hope that the values we hold dear are true possibilities we can hope to attain. When it comes to faith, however, the heroes we see in the Bible often call us to a different reality that what we might prefer. When the values and ideals of our culture and the gospel conflict, which heroes will we take as our examples to follow?

Paul spoke of a transformed life, but he was not talking about what we tend to consider transformation. He spoke of being a new creature in Christ, but not according to the patterns we might use. We tend to think of overcoming drug addictions. We think of leaving lives of crime. We think of setting aside the use of foul language, bad habits, and baser cultural norms. We think of others being transformed into something more like ourselves. We think of becoming respectable members of polite society. When Paul considered transformation, he was talking about the changes God had made in his life. These changes had made him completely different than the religious nut who had persecuted believers because they were different and brought a challenge to his religious way of life.

We want the drug addict to give up drugs, the alcoholic to lay down the bottle, the adulterer to become faithful, and the thug to obey the laws of civil and orderly society. We want lives of comfort, tranquility, and harmony, a lullaby life which costs us next to nothing. We seek transformation that results in measurable goals. We want a tranquility of ...

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