I need to post more, but sometimes I have nothing to say. Silence is golden, ya know?
My random speculations on Biblical truth seem to generate good response from my readers, and that makes me happy. I've surrounded myself with people who care about God and what His Word has to offer us. That's exciting, especially when I had so recently strayed from that which God has to offer me.
With that said, I offer more random speculation:
1st Corinthians 4:8-13 (NIV)
8Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings—and that without us! How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you! 9For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. 10We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! 11To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.
Here, Paul is talking to the Corinthian church (very sarcastically, I might add) and pointing out that they have become content with earthly riches while the apostles, or those truly on fire for Christ, were paraded around as a "spectacle". They endured man's worst, and had become fools for Christ.
But what brought about Paul's sarcastic tirade? Let's look a verse back...
"For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?" (4:7)
What is the answer to Paul's question? What caused the Corinthians to falter so?
They became so wrapped up in their earthly riches (which they earned) instead of reveling in the riches that God had for them. And even those things which they did not earn but did receive from God they still boasted as if they had earned those gifts. Pride, the original sin, had taken hold of the church. It wasn't even pride in what God had done through them, but almost a pride in what they had done without God. But we know that man cannot stand alone (Eph. 6:10-20).
Paul moves from this verse into vs. 8-13, where he explains what humility has brought into his life: scorn and contempt from man. By following God's calling and not being content with what he already had, Paul was reduced to rags and homelessness. Everyone hated him and the other apostles. They were "the refuse of the world".
Yet, Paul urges the Corinthian church to "imitate me" (vs 16).
Why, Paul? Why would we want to imitate you, and so become the scum of the earth, the downtrodden, the beaten up, the miserable?
He answered this at the beginning of the chapter:
"So, then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now, it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful" (4:1-2).
He presents three things here:
1. We are entrusted with the Gospel.
2. We must prove faithful.
3. So that men will regard us as servants of Christ.
I put it in that order for a reason. Paul is not saying that we must prove anything to God, but we must prove something to men so that we will be seen as servants of Christ. What must we prove? That we are faithful. That we won't settle for anything less than God's plan for our lives. If that leads to being the "scum of the earth," Paul says bring it on. We are fulfilling our call: to be servants of Christ.
Why would I willingly place myself in that position? Why must we be abused and downtrodden? Paul answers this charge a couple chapters later:
"Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible...I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings" (9:19, 23).
Paul willingly places himself in servitude of all so that he may "by all means possible save some" (22). What has happened to this mindset? Why don't we do all that it takes to save the lost? If it means being scorned, being put in temporary discomfort for a short period of time, heck no, I am not gonna do it.
This is not the Christian attitude. We should become the scum of the earth. We should bless when we are cursed, endure when we are persecuted, answer kindly when we are slandered. We should try to save all, so that some may be saved.
"Do you not know that in a race all runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we to it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize" (9:24-27).
That momentary discomfort is all it is: momentary. We do not run for a perishable crown, but an imperishable one. Thus, we do not run aimlessly, but with purpose. We beat our bodies into submission and become slaves to all, so that we may win all the more for Christ.
So stop worrying about your temporal pleasures! Stop being Sunday Christians that put on a happy face saying, "All is well, all is well." Become the scum of the earth, so that one day, you may receive the prize. Do the unthinkable:
P.S. Congratulations if you read the whole thing. That was over 1,000 words long.