there is a church called Scum of the Earth. And their newsletter is called Rubbish. It’s not that they have horrible self-esteem. They’re just identifying with what the Apostle Paul said in today’s passage about people who really take their servant/missionary calling seriously. You see, Paul and those like him had painfully experienced the ridicule of the world that came with their counter-cultural mission. As we read in yesterday’s text, the Jews thought the Christians were a scandal and the Greeks thought they were fools. In obedient fulfillment to their mission calling, they found themselves hungry, thirsty, poorly clothed and homeless. They were brutalized, cursed, persecuted and slandered. They were regarded, “the scum of the earth.” But they stayed diligent, merciful and kind. They pressed forward in faith because they served a divine trust and knew the final assessment of their work was in God’s hands. Denver, Colorado
Unfortunately, many of the Corinthian Christians lived in comfort and had become arrogant in it. How frustrating and heart-breaking this was for Paul. He was a spiritual parent to them. Through his mission labors he had birthed this church. And now his spiritual children were bearing little resemblance to their faithful father. Some of you Christian parents, church planters and pastors know how this feels. And so we hear both the affection and aggression of Paul. “My dear children, I’ve warned you, and now I’m coming to confront you, and we’ll see what your arrogance gets you when we are face to face!” “Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love …?”
To some degree, we can understand the Corinthians’ resistance to follow in Paul’s footsteps. After all, who wants to be ‘son of Scum’? But what Paul has demonstrated, and what he is sending Timothy to
to reinforce, is that his way of life is consistent with the gospel he teaches. Paul is a trustworthy servant-leader with integrity! Corinth
When the Lord, and no one else, makes the final assessment of our Christian lives, He won’t be looking to reward a full refrigerator, or fine clothes, or arrogance. Jesus will reward service, faithfulness and integrity.
Pray: Lord, sometimes it gets really hard to serve you. It seems you’ve called us to be fish out of water. We strive in your direction while so many move against us in the direction of the world. When I compromise my faithfulness and integrity, I feel less uncomfortable; it takes the edge off the struggle. But I know that’s not what you want. Help me to be obedient, regardless of how others may regard me. Help me to be humble and bold at the same time. I am willing to be a ‘fool’ for you, Christ.