“WITH” AND “AWAY FROM”

“Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord”.

2 Cor 5:6 NIV

For most people faith is a strange experience. At one time we are full of confidence and even get carried away in ecstasy at being in the presence of God. We get warmed up and enthusiastic when we witness God acting and when ‘things happen”. But then we can easily become skeptical when the things we want to happen, don’t. God seems to go into recess and ceases to be active. Faith is holding on in these contradictory periods and it means somehow holding the contradictions in tension. However, some strong souls are always confident – they seem to walk with God in uninterrupted fellowship whatever is happening all around them.

Paul uses different imagery here. “This ‘at’ or ‘away from’ imagery, however, is not coldly geographical but warmly relational, as indicated by the words ‘with the Lord’. In a number of other places in the New Testament the preposition ‘with’ is used of people being in relationship with one another. For example, the people of Nazareth ask, in response to Jesus’ presence with them: Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here ‘with’ us? But a person can only be in one place at a time. He is either ‘at home in the body’ or ‘at home with the Lord’. Paul’s preference is to be ‘away from the body’ because this will mean being ‘at home with the Lord’” (P. Barnett, The Message of 2 Corinthians, p100). When we are with the Lord, we are confident, hopeful, and strong.

PRAYER THOUGHT

Lord, help me to be always with you and therefore confident.

PRAYER OF INTERCESSION

Lord, help those decision-makers in the countries affected by the Coronavirus disease to guide the people and ensure good outcomes from the leadership they give. Encourage the people to co-operate with their leaders and with each other, to exercise discipline and to work for the common good. I ask it in Jesus Christ’s name. AMEN

I.B.R.A. Readings

James 3:1–6