Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Spectacle Unto The World

I Corinthians 4:8-17

"You have to live enough above the people to earn their respect." That was the answer of a Philipine missionary when asked why he needed $4,000 per month support in a country where $15 per month was considered a high paying job.

"You should never buy a dress costing less than $200, if you are going to be a pastor or missionary wife." This was declaimed by a Bible college professor to a class of potential pastor and missionary wives, at time when top wages were around $6 per hour.

"You ladies need to go to a beautician at least once a week, and more if there are special things going on." So said the secretary of a famous pastor teaching a seminar for pastors wives.

"The pastor should be paid at least twice as much as any man in the church. The Bible says he is to be counted worthy of double honor." This was by an Evangelist speaking at a large conference.

"The pastor should never do any physical work, nor should he become too close to his people. He is to devote himself to study and prayer." This from a Bible college president speaking to an pastors conference.

What a contrast with Paul's description of the Apostles and their ministry. They were clearly living below the standard of the people to whom they ministered. Paul says he wished the people were actually as high as they appeared by comparison, as it would mean that the Apostles could then liv at the standard their people lived at. Read what he says.

Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you. For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.

We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.

I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.
For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church. (I Corinthians 4:8-17)

Paul, and the other Apostles, in going through these things, lacking physical things, working to support themselves, constantly disrespected, without even a home of their own, are the ones God has chosen to bring the gospel to the world. Paul begs the church to follow his example, sending Timothy back to remind them what the example and teaching had been.

Jesus had said that a person who was not willing to go through these things could not be his disciple. If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26) Looking at the meaning of the word disciple, and what this passage is teaching, they literally cannot even be saved. Their present life means too much to them.

It is impossible to lead anyone anywhere without going yourself. By refusing to give up those things to reach others, we cannot lead them to humble themselves to truly recieve Christ. They see no example. God has chosen to weak things and the things which are not, not the things which are great and mighty.

It would appear that those who teach and practice the philosophy of those I quoted are, in fact, not serving God, and Paul warns us against following their example.

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