i must go on boasting. though there is nothing to be gained by it, i will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. [2 corinthians 12:1]
people love to talk about themselves, don’t they? of course, that’s a sweeping generalization, but often the best way to strike up a conversation with someone is to ask them questions about themselves. the discerning conversationalist will pull out bits of information they can relate to and come up with a response that will continue the dialogue. i’ve found that too frequently when the conversation switches from self-focused to Christ-focused, it’s much easier to hear crickets.
paul is realizing that the corinthians, once taken by the truth of the gospel, have started to esteem those who gratify self and talk a big game, so to speak. and because the corinthian Christians were taken over by worldly thoughts, they thought little of paul and little of Jesus too.
and so, unfortunately for paul, he had to go on boasting in order to even get the corinthians attention. not to make himself look great, but so that by extension, the corinthians might esteem Jesus once more. he had to address the topic of visions and revelations because the corinthians were quite taken with the self-gratifying boasting of the “super” (aka false) apostles.
have you ever thought about the idea that you could be someone’s only connection to Christ? their full opinion of Jesus and christians might be completely formed by what they see in you as a christian. now don’t let that thought crush you, the Holy Spirit will shape and mold someone as he desires – that’s not up to you. but consider the call to be an ambassador for Christ [2 corinthians 5:20]. we are called to love god and love others, we are called to obedience. and so the pressure of someone else’s salvation or faith does not rest on us – but we are to be faithful ambassadors.
paul knows that how the corinthians view him will dictate how soft their hearts will be to Jesus. and so it is for us. we are to be above reproach [1 timothy 3:2], we are to be all things to all people [1 corinthians 9:19-23], we are to love, we are to win our brothers and sisters [matthew 18:15]. don’t get me wrong, we will absolutely fail at these things, and yes people will see us fail. but what an opportunity to show people that we are not glorious, we only have faith in the one who is.
maybe you don’t have dreams and visions to assist you in boasting in the Lord, but you do have your own personal testimony. how did Christ snatch you from the pit, and how does he continue to sanctify you? it’s not a coincidence or anything that you’ve done, it’s the saving work of Christ – that’s something to boast about.
now about those crickets – you may find some moments of awkwardness when conversations switch from self to Christ. you may find that people avoid you because they know you talk about Jesus “too much.” but also, people will get to know you better because you share your heart for Jesus, and more importantly, they’ll become more acquainted with Christ themselves. that alone is worth the awkwardness.
God, let our conversations continually point to you. help our lives to be full of boasting in what you have done in spite of us. let it be said of us that our conversations help people know you more. help us to understand what it means to be all things to all people, and to love people as you have called us to. Amen.
~ erin boettge