I was struck hard by the contrast between the apostle Paul and his ‘boastings’ verses the super-Christians lauded by the church in Paul’s day and today. It is clear that Corinth honored and lauded ‘super’ leaders who had polished tongues and made names for themselves in the same ways people of Acacia and Rome made names for themselves.
And things are still the same…
I cannot read another person’s heart so the thoughts flooding my mind must be tempered with grace and humility. BUT… Paul fills his resume with sufferings, beatings, lack of material possessions and statements that both Jews and Gentiles have tried to suppress him and kill him. In simple terms Paul resume is filled with sufferings and loss from his Gospel service. He didn’t profit from the Gospel, but gave himself away for the advance of the Gospel. These, it seems, are true measures of an apostle and servant of Christ.
I cannot speak to the opponents in his day, but headlining Christian leaders today sell millions of books; plan Christian cruises where we can travel in comfort and listen to these teachers teach; and some enjoy ostentatious living of worldly success. We honor in our Christian leaders similar things the world honors in their leaders.
As I sit here this morning something seems wrong with this picture. And this something has been attached to the church since the beginning, which is why Paul penned these words in the first place.
I am not sure what to do with these thoughts. Here are some things that are bubbling up from within me…
1) I sense that I should always be checking myself internally, by examining my heart. What are my internal measures of faithfulness… how much am I giving myself away in service to Jesus?
2) I need to carefully avoid self-righteousness. My task is to walk with Jesus and play the role He has for me and to use my wealth and influence as lavishly as I can for Gospel advancement.
3) I should steep myself in the words of Jesus about servanthood and sacrifice, allowing these Jesus ways of the kingdom permeate my life rooting out worldly ways of honor, prestige, power and wealth as my motivating life dreams.
So much more thought is needed here.
Lord, help me to brood on this as I go about my day. Show me how to live Your character in my world, no matter how counter cultural it will be. I pray this in Your name, Jesus. Amen.