Authenticity. It’s what we crave today, perhaps as much, if not more, than ever. It’s driving the extreme reactions in our presidential primaries. It’s the vehicule of the popular stories in fiction, on television and at the movies. In a time in which we feel fragmented by the demands placed upon us by a fragmenting society, trying to compartmentalize our feelings, needs and purchasing power, we long for something deeper than just skimming on the surface. We crave the authentic! We see it in our hipster use, or reuse, of canning jars as preferred stemware. We see it in the widening emphasis, and desire for, products which are organic, sustainable, green, and locally farmed. In an age in which we can create anything, nearly anywhere; in which we can have anything we want, anyway we want it, nearly anytime we want it….we want what’s not so easily orderable (and we still want it with free 2 day shipping!) But what does that mean in terms of life, when we’re talking about more than products and purchases? We are craving real people, of course you’d never know it from the invasive infatuation with the Kardashian family! We long for authentic relationships: honest, sincere, true, respectful, mutual. Such authenticity is life-giving and life-sustaining.
That’s what Paul is talking about in this part of 2 Corinthians. He’s having trouble with the people of the Corinthian church community. They don’t think he’s the real deal: he’s not good enough, not doing things how they believe they should be done. Paul writes to them about authenticity and vision. He invokes the memory of Moses who having glimpsed God was forced to veil his face for the remainder of his days because the people were terrified of how that authentic experience of the Divine One altered him.
Paul is insisting that faith grounds us in authenticity. It makes us realize who is in charge, or sovereign; who matters, and what life is about. Authenticity changes our perspective. At least it did for Paul who writes of afflictions and sufferings that were endured; through which (not because of) he has come to even more clearly discern the paradoxical power of God in Christ who brings life out of death, calls the light out of the darkness, and transforms us: making all things new.
Questions for Going Deeper:
- How have you experienced the paradoxical power of God in your life?
- How have you glimpsed life in death, hope in affliction?
- When have you experience affliction or suffering that didn’t break you?
- What kept you from breaking? What grew from the affliction or suffering?
- Who in your life has helped to make God (more) visible through their actions, words, relationship, presence, teaching, generosity? How did they do that?
- How might the Spirit of God be calling you to live, or to accept to live, as one who holds treasures in jars of clay?