The apostle Paul writes to the church at Corinth with the weight of concerns bearing upon him—despair, criticism, opposition, fatigue, suffering, human limitations, mortality. He imagines what it might be like to be in the presence of the Lord and yet reckons with the reality of life “in the body.”

Life in the body is life in service to others. Ministry is always offered in the midst of complexity. Some receive our gifts, others question them, and yet others may reject them. Paul is grounded in the inner life, his conscience and heart. Why does one continue in ministry? As a young adult I listened as a bishop preached a sermon to those being ordained. In the midst of the message, the bishop made a comment that seemed unscientific a the time: “If you do not spend time in prayer and scripture reading each day, you will not be in the ministry in five years.”

I sense now the truth of that bishop’s conviction. Despite the challenge of external circumstances—and Paul is honest about them—the apostle does not give up or lose heart. (See 2 Corinthians 4.) What motivates us to continue in service and ministry to those whom God places in our path each day? “The love of Christ,” Paul notes, “urges us on.” The crucified Jesus loved us and gave himself for us. (See Galatians 2:20.) And there is the persistence of the word all. Jesus died for all. And so we are compelled to serve, compelled to speak, compelled to love, compelled out of a sense of love, the greatest gift. (See 1 Corinthians 13.) In our humanity, we are weak and limited, discouraged and despairing. Yet the love of Christ urges us on. And in the midst of the weight of concerns that bears upon us, we live by faith (not sight), trust and confidence. We meditate on Jesus, crucified and risen.

In the midst of all that weighs upon me this day, O Lord, remind me that you are near and that in the Cross you love me and have given yourself for me. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Mark 4:26-34

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Lectionary Week
June 7–13, 2021
Scripture Overview

From a human perspective, we tend to judge people by appearances: how attractive they are, how wealthy they seem to be. God’s standard, however, is not outward appearance but the attitude of the heart. David was the youngest brother in his family, but God knew his mighty heart and chose him as the next king of Israel. The psalmist declares that God gives victory to those who put their trust in God, not in the outward appearance of might. Jesus reinforces this truth with the parable of the mustard seed. Paul tells the Corinthians that we should no longer judge by what we see on the outside, for God changes what really matters—what is on the inside.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read 1 Samuel 15:34–16:13. When have outward appearances prevented you from seeing someone’s value as a child of God?
Read Psalm 20. How do you discern whether your “heart’s desire” is in line with what God wants for your life?
Read 2 Corinthians 5:6-17. In what ways are you “urged on” by the love of Christ? How do you behave differently because you know Christ’s love?
Read Mark 4:26-34. When have you seen God make much of a small gift that you offered?

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