Verse: I Corinthians 4:8-13
8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you! 9 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. 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; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.

Wow, this group of verses reads pretty harsh.
Is Paul being sarcastic?! He seems rather put out.

He says to the Corinthians that they have already begun to reign, and in the next breath he clearly tells them that they really have not.

In some way, they must be behaving as if they have status and power and authority, but definitely not in a good way. Paul reminds them that this is not actually appropriate. They are seeking the wrong kind of wealth, the wrong kind of status, and the wisdom of their Corinthian culture. How familiar that sounds. So easily we lean towards the things that our culture is constantly telling us is important… our possessions, our status, and the wisdom of the day.

We feel the pressure to go after these things, even placing our identities on the shifting sands of public opinion. But Paul tells us the position we should take. We are to be fools for Christ. Not above working with our hands. Responding to ridicule and curses with love and blessings. This isn’t as familiar to me as it should be, I fear. Too often I am concerned with how I appear, in various ways that really don’t matter. I am afraid to be dishonored, or at the very least, want to be honored. It was hard for me to feel a connection to these verses at first, but the more I read them and dig in, the more I can see myself in them. It’s hard to live the way we are called to live, and it’s important to be reminded that we really are called to a countercultural life.

Lord, where we seek the approval of the world, would you turn out hearts toward you, to seek after your heart. Help me to find my identity in you alone, so that when I am faced with trials, I can lean into the security of who you’ve made me to be, and respond out of that. Amen.

Author: Emily Costa