At my church, the pastor is preaching on 1 Corinthians. It has been very enlightening. This week’s sermon challenged me – as all of them seem to – at a deep level.
Paul urges the Corinthians to imitate him ( Cor 4:16).
That sounds kind-of arrogant, unless you read the verses prior (this is the key to reading the Bible and even hoping to get the true meaning. Read things in context!). In these verses, Paul says this….
To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 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.
Um, who would want to imitate that?
But we are called to.
Our pastor went on to give us a combination of quotes from a couple of writers. What they basically said is that when Paul took on persecution, slander and other evils of this world, and answered back kindly, he essentially stopped the yuck in its tracks, absorbing it so it was not passed on, was not recycled, was not bounced back.
This is something we can do to be like Christ – and Paul – in this world. Both of them had a huge impact through living their lives counterculturely. Just imagine….
What if instead of retaliating against the evil perpetrated on us at 9/11, we showed the world a better way? We looked at why the attacks happened and worked on ways of reaching out to the people in this world that hate us. And focused our military energy on protecting our shores. As it’s going now, they killed, we killed, they killed again, we killed again, ad nauseam.
What if, when someone we love yells at us, we ask them what is wrong, how can we help?
What if, when someone we don’t love attacks us, we realize it’s really not about us, and try to see the person behind the pain?
I don’t know. Stuff like that. Little stuff, big stuff. Letting go of ourselves as needing to be validated, protected, preserved.
Absorbing the yuck and sending back love instead.