Scum And Refuse Of The World
Read 1 Corinthians Chapter 4
1Co 4:9 For 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. 10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! 11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12 We 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.
Christians are not welcome in many circles today. Around 80% of Americans claim to be Christians, but only a small percentage of those actually show any evidence of their faith. Real Christians, and even some pretend ones, are not received well in our society. Christians are okay if them do not interrupt the lives of those living outside of God’s precepts, but just as soon as any of them meddle in the affairs of the world, they are shunned.
In today’s passage, Paul obviously saw this happening in his time. During his life and ministry, there were very few men and women who claimed the name of Christ. The world he lived in was much worse than ours. Nevertheless, we can draw a few comparisons.
Our views are being attacked in many corners. Christians who oppose abortion, sex outside the realm of marriage, and in particular gay marriage, are on display in our modern world. Our beliefs are taunted, we are portrayed as buffoons, and often ridiculed in the media, government, and entertainment worlds. In April of this year (2015), Penn, of Penn and Teller, was seen in a video saying that everyone who reads the bible will come away from it an atheist. We know that is a ridiculous statement, but it is a great example of how Christians are seen in some corners of society. We are indeed on display, as mentioned by Paul in verse 9.
Paul has some great suggestions for us as we face this kind of treatment. We won’t go into all those, because they were covered in the devotional for July 27. Instead, we will look at our lives and see if we are living and acting in such a way that would bring this kind of derision upon us. Are we living differently than most of our world? If not, we will not face many personal attacks. Is the world comfortable around us? If so, we can be pretty sure that we aren’t showing that Christ makes much of a difference in our lives.
Also in verse 9, Paul states that he and the other apostles “have been made a spectacle to the whole universe.” We can surely see that happening, if we speak the truth about sexuality, marriage, and abortion. The world (the unsaved, including some who claim to be Christian) opposes the conservative Christian and his beliefs at every turn. If we speak truth, hailing God’s word as the ultimate truth, we are portrayed as fools.
Well, Paul thinks that’s just okay. He didn’t mind being a fool for Christ, and neither should we. We should not be afraid for our world to think we are nuts. I think that if we are not considered fools for Christ, we might need to examine how we present ourselves to the world. Verse 13 goes even further. Our lives and our beliefs may someday cause us to be considered “the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.” We should hope that happens. That would mean that we have made our evil world uncomfortable.
We can “love” the world all we want, but it won’t make a whit of a difference for Christ if we do not at the same time call them first to repentance, and then to a complete faith and submission to Him.
Prayer: Father, we confess that we don’t enjoy being disparaged. We want to be liked, especially considering how our SSA has caused many of us to deal with personal insecurities. But we want to make a difference in our world. Therefore, we ask You to strengthen us so that we can endure the loathing that will naturally happen if we stand firm in Your truth. In fear and trembling, we submit ourselves to You, asking You to show us where and when we are to proclaim truth, being willing to suffer whatever results that brings. But mostly, we ask that You prepare hearts to hear and accept Your word. That would make it all worthwhile.