Have You Forgotten Something?


1Cor. 4:8   Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Quite apart from us you have become kings! Indeed, I wish that you had become kings, so that we might be kings with you! 9 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, as though sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to mortals. 10 We are fools for the sake of Christ, 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 are hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clothed and beaten and homeless, 12 and we grow weary from the work of our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we speak kindly. We have become like the rubbish of the world, the dregs of all things, to this very day.

1Cor. 4:14   I am not writing this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For though you might have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers. Indeed, in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 I appeal to you, then, be imitators of me. 


Paul seems to be writing the church in Corinth with a bit of sarcasm. They are pretty proud of the church that they have become and are embracing the work wholeheartedly, and yet, they seem to be forgetting something. They seem to have forgotten their spiritual father and what he has tried to teach them. The attitudes they have assumed are:

  1. They believe that they are living in the spiritual blessings of God and they are boasting about all the good things that are happening to them. This is as opposed to the apostles, who brought them the good news and who are struggling and suffering for their faith. The Corinthians are acting as if this Christianity requires no sacrifice at all. They feel as if they are kings of their community. 
  2. The church in Corinth has tried to become proper and acceptable to the community. They don’t want to be seen as a spectacle for Christ. Therefore they may have been distancing themselves from Paul because he may have been an embarrassment to them. 
  3. While the apostles had been doing all they could to imitate Christ in this world, some may have interpreted their behaviors as foolish. In words dripping with sarcasm he tells the Corinthian church that they must be very wise and strong and held in high regard. Obviously they know things so much better than Paul and his team for they have suffered. They have not become wealthy by preaching the word and so they don’t look like the rest of the rich crowd. They have  been beaten and gone homeless, and this doesn’t sell very well. 
  4. Paul goes on to tell them of his response to the situations he has faced. He has learned to be positive about all that he deals with including blessing those who speak poorly of him and speaking kindly of them. 

Paul’s intent is not to shame the people of Corinth, but it is to speak to them as a kind father. He, as their spiritual father, has put up with much so that they can have a better life. Now that they have a better life, he doesn’t want them to forget where they have come from. They may be wealthy, but they should never forget their spiritual parents who were poor in spirit, and therefore counting everything as rubbish in light of knowing Christ. Therefore, he urges them not to forget, even if it’s not appealing, to follow him. 


When we hear the stories of those who have gone before we realize how much they sacrificed so that we could have a better life. Just yesterday my husband was talking about his grandfather, a physical giant of a man who was a coal miner in Pennsylvania, but never lost the Swedish accent of his youth. His father had brought his family to America, seeking a better life. Sadly, he became consumed by alcoholism, taking every penny that he could from his boys. Finally, Chuck’s grandfather had enough and he would no longer work and be beaten so that his father could have more to drink. As a teenager, he ran away from home, looking for a better life. 

His choice to leave home and put together a better life for his family meant that things would be different for those who came after him. He did have a temper, but he never touched alcohol, afraid that he just might turn into his father. He fought in the first world war and returned to the coal mines of western Pennsylvania. His wife began attending a little Nazarene Church where she and her children had an experience with Christ that would transform their lives. They sacrificed so that all three of their children could study at Eastern Nazarene College. They wanted them to have a better life. Later in life Chuck’s grandfather came to Christ and his temper was gone, replaced by a heart of generosity. 

I’m wondering, if Albert Sunberg were alive today, what kind of a man would he be? The rough coal miner from Western Pennsylvania with the Swedish accent might be rather interesting to have around. I’m not sure he would fit in all that well, for his descendants have become a bit cultured. But Albert and his wife, Viola, they sacrificed so that those who would come later could have a better life. 

For centuries the church has been filled with faithful followers of Christ who have sacrificed. It’s so easy to walk away from a church these days and go to another one that “meets my needs.” We like to find one that has worship that “fits my style.” Maybe it’s because the old folks left at the other church have been reviled, persecuted, slandered, and are viewed like rubbish and we really don’t want to be associated with them. But maybe the call to follow Christ looks more like them than it does the “cool” church. 

Maybe we’ve forgotten something, and just maybe, it’s time to remember. 


Lord, thank you for reminding me of those who have gone before, sacrificing when necessary. Please, help me to be willing to follow you, even when it’s not pretty.  Amen. 


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