The book of 1 & 2 Corinthians are just two of the books that contain letters that Paul wrote to the church, and so today that would be you and I. In his letters he was so confident in who He was in Christ that he boldly asked “the church” to imitate him as he followed after and imitated Christ. In the following verses He was expressing to the church his own experience in following Christ and was asking them, “us” to share in this life with Him.
1 As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. 2 For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.”Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.
3 We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry.4 In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind.5 We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food.6 We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us,* and by our sincere love.7 We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense.8 We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors.9 We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed.10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.
11 Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you, and our hearts are open to you.12 There is no lack of love on our part, but you have withheld your love from us.13 I am asking you to respond as if you were my own children. Open your hearts to us!
When I read Scriptures as though they were written to me, for me, for my life today (which they are) it forces me to respond one way or the other. So basically Paul is asking me, us to join in this life for Christ and suffer. Not the road most would choose. But Paul saw beyond the hardship and suffering of the present because he was too busy keeping his eye on the prize at the end.
I really like this Paul dude. I like that he who persecuted and murdered God’s people, had an out of the blue encounter with the love of God one day that changed the course of his whole life and convinced him to repent from what he had spent his life doing, and follow this God. I love his boldness, and that he doesn’t mind telling the truth even when it wasn’t popular. I like that he wasn’t in it for a position or looking to build his own ministry. He just had a message of truth to tell and he told it with boldness, yet genuine love. I like that God used a messed up, God hating murderer, to lead His people.
The Christian life lived out in fullness, isn’t exactly a comfortable kind of lifestyle when you get down to it. It consists of things like loving and blessing those who hate and even persecute us, enduring trials and calamities of every kind, being patient and kind when faced with hardships, living in a way that doesn’t cause others to stumble and even carrying crosses. So when I read Paul’s letters to God’s people, I figure they are for me too and I ask myself, am I really willing to live as Paul did at the expense of my own self so that the name of Christ might be glorified?
(sigh) I tell, ya – it’s not for sissies. Like you’re either in all the way, or you’re not. That’s pretty much how I’d imagine Paul putting it. He wasn’t messin’ around.