If you turn on CNN, read the Washington Journal, click articles on Facebook, or use Google; you’re bound to come across someone verbally attacking Christians.
“They’re evil and barbaric.”
“They’re judgmental hypocrites.”
“They rob people.”
Those are quotes I found online from people talking about Christians. But you already knew that. You’ve heard them said before. Maybe you’ve even said them yourself. Maybe you’ve had those things said about you. Either way, you’ve been faced with the fact that many (not all), see Christians as the scum of the world.
And they’re kind of right.
At least, that’s what this missionary is claiming.
He heard one of the church plants he started was struggling. There was tension among the members. Some believed, since they were serving God, they should be rich and honored above others. When they realized the missionary who had planted the church was neither of these things, they decided they wanted to find a new leader, one who could better help them achieve the glory and honor they thought they deserved.
Here is what the missionary said when he was finally able to get a hold of them:
“You want people to honor and glorify you? Don’t you already walk around that way? Haven’t you already become rich? You act like it. Aren’t you already a king? You treat other people like you are. Meanwhile, when you’re bossing people around and living in your plush homes, my team is homeless. Our clothes are ragged. Our hands are blistered from working. We’re tired and we’re hungry.
Still, when others defame us, we pray for them. When we’re persecuted, we keep the faith. When we’re slandered, we try to encourage. We have become, and are still, like
of the world,
of all things.”**
This guy’s name was Paul. He was the apostle who helped to plant the New Testament church in Corinth. Those in the church had grown fat and lazy. They were more concerned with what others thought about them, rather than fulfilling God’s Word. They were worried about their comfort, not the hurting and broken. So Paul gives them a rebuke laced with sarcasm.
Which I love — because sarcasm is my primary mode of communication — unless you’re under 10yrs old. Then I’ll just give you a high-five and try to trip you.
I think this is one of those scripture we try to sweep under the rug. We act like it couldn’t possible apply to us today. We’re progressive Christians. We have Facebook. We tattoo scriptures on our bodies. We post photos on Instagram with our bible open and our favorite coffee mug. We watch R-rated movies. We have answers for why Scripture says things that are embarrassing, or things we know other people don’t agree with. We have cake
and we eat it too.
It’s like we’re trying so hard to fit in with everyone and everything else. We’re trying to win the culture wars. We’re trying to prove that Christianity isn’t dangerous and that’s it’s this nice, fluffy religion that doesn’t offend anyone and if you join it you get a million bucks and a million followers on Twitter and you basically become Taylor Swift.
“’Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate”
I’m not saying we should judge and offend and be mean to people. We shouldn’t act like scumbags. Quite the opposite. I’m saying we should live and love like Jesus did, and when that causes people to reject us, we shouldn’t be surprised, because they rejected Him.
We’ve tried to so hard to win the culture wars that I fear we’re losing the battle for souls. We’re trying to prove to everyone else that we have this power and authority, that we deserve to be listened to because of our intellect and our reason, but Jesus didn’t really approach unbelievers that way. He was humble. He was meek. He was a servant. And He was honest about what He was asking people to do.
He didn’t go on a debate on CNN, with a really bad combover, and bash the other side of the aisle. He didn’t post ambiguous Facebook statuses laced with personal attacks on people He disagreed with. He loved people and we killed Him for it,
like the scum of the earth.
What if, we’re not meant to win the culture war? What if the way to win people to Jesus isn’t by convincing them we’re cool and they can become cool if they accept Christ? What if we’re meant to be like Florence Nightingale, going from battle to battle, picking up the pieces, and helping the wounded?
A few verses after Paul says he has become like the scum of the world, he challenges the Corinthian church to imitate him. Does Paul want them to act like scum? I don’t think so. Is he saying they literally are scum? Not really. I think he’s trying to get them to let go of their pride. To be okay with people seeing them as scum so they can use it as an opportunity to share their faith.
My name is Paul, and I’m like the scum of the earth. But the blood of Jesus has washed me clean. And the love of Christ is greater still.
soli deo gloria
**Paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 4:8-13