Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don't squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us.
God reminds us, I heard your call in the nick of time; The day you needed me, I was there to help.
Don't put it off; don't frustrate God's work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we're doing.
Our work as God's servants gets validated - or not - in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times;
when we're beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating;
with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love;
when we're telling the truth, and when God's showing his power; when we're doing our best setting things right;
when we're praised, and when we're blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted;
ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die;
immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all.
Dear, dear Corinthians, I can't tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life.
We didn't fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren't small, but you're living them in a small way.
I'm speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!
Don't become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That's not partnership; that's war. Is light best friends with dark?
Does Christ go strolling with the Devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands?
Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God's holy Temple? But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives. God himself put it this way: "I'll live in them, move into them; I'll be their God and they'll be my people.
So leave the corruption and compromise; leave it for good," says God. "Don't link up with those who will pollute you. I want you all for myself.
I'll be a Father to you; you'll be sons and daughters to me."
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)