8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you! 9 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.
14 I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me. 17 That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church. 18 Some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. 20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. 21 What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (1 Co 4:8–21). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Church Family: Family Fathers and Fools
Men held authority in first century Corinth, both in politics as well as in family life. Those who were insecure in that power would lord it over others with threats and persistence. That much has not changed much, for either men or women.
Paul acted as a father to the churches in Corinth and wrote to them of the way he maintained his parental authority. Rather than boast of his strength, he paints himself as a fool for Christ, although not in the sense we so often think of fools. He was not writing about face paint, over-sized shoes, or joke telling. He was writing about the foolishness of a life of sacrificial love.
Let me give you an example. About ten years ago, two women visited the church I was serving in Illinois. They were both middle-aged and battling cancer. Instead of staying home and undergoing rigorous cancer treatments, God called them to walk and witness. So that’s what they did. They left their homes (somewhere out East as I remember) and began walking from town to town, sharing their witness of God’s love. That is foolishness! That’s craziness! That is the kind of authority that Paul wanted to show Corinth. When those women spoke about faith and God’s love, you believed it because they lived it out.
Paul lists out the things that he has done to show his faith in God. Homelessness, hunger, thirst, public slander, and being treated like garbage are just a few he mentions. Then he mentions the most foolish thing of all. He asks them to imitate him.
Children imitate their parents, both the good and the bad. We can use our authority in the lives of others to show them what Christ looks like and teach them to live like Him as well, or we can teach them our insecurities. Are you willing to be a foolish father or mother, giving up your life for Christ so that you can teach your children by example?
Reflection: What sacrifices do you make that are specifically for Jesus? If you stopped following Christ would your life look any different?
Trying to hear the music in the din of many voices.
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