“Word for Today” – 2 Corinthians 1 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com
Last night, I had to change my plans. I say “I had to change my plans” because, honestly, I never like to change my plans. Midcourse corrections, last minute updates, and on the fly modifications are not my spiritual gift. In fact, they have sometimes been known to bring out my less endearing spiritual gift of crabbiness. But last night, the need was so pressing, the situation so acute, and the circumstance so weighty that even I made an eleventh-hour change. Such was the reason I was not able to attend our Ash Wednesday service yesterday evening.
As we begin studying together through 2 Corinthians in our “Word for Today” readings, I am comforted by the fact that I am not the only one who has “last minute change aversion.” Paul, we read in 2 Corinthians 1:15-16, had planned to visit the Corinthians twice (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:5-7). But at the last minute, he has to turn two shorter planned visits into one longer unplanned visit. This change in plans gives his detractors fodder to accuse him of, to use some political parlance, “flip-flopping.” Their accusation is piercing and damning: “If you cannot be trusted in something as elementary as keeping an appointment, how can you be trusted in your message of Christ?” Paul, knowing that the very gospel is at stake in their accusation, responds swiftly and pointedly: “When I planned this, did I do it lightly? Or do I make plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say, ‘Yes, yes’ and ‘No, no’” (2 Corinthians 1:17)? When Paul asks this question, he sets it up with the Greek word meti. This particle is used when its speaker expects a negative answer to his question. To paraphrase in English, “I didn’t make my plans lightly, did I?” Paul already has in mind the answer to his own question and that answer is “no.” Paul would never change his plans on a whim. Yet, in this instance, the need was pressing, the situation was acute, and the circumstance was weighty. He had no choice.
Even though Paul may have had to occasionally, if not begrudgingly, change his plans, he reminds the Corinthians of something that he has never changed – his message of Jesus Christ. “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me…was not ‘Yes’ and ‘No,’ but in him it has always been ‘Yes’” (2 Corinthians 1:19). There is no “flip-flopping” in Paul’s gospel message because there is no “flip-flopping” in God, as he himself promises us: “I the LORD do not change” (Malachi 3:6). And because there is no “flip-flopping” in God’s essence, we can also be assured that there is no “flip-flopping” in God’s plans. Indeed, God had planned all along to send us Jesus. As 1 Peter 1:18-20 reminds us: “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world.” Long before we saw our need for a Savior, God did. And so God planned the cross before the creation of the world. Why? Because God planned you. And God has plans for you. Aren’t you glad his loving plans for you are secure?
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