Friday, July 6Scripture Reading—II Corinthians 10:7-11
Some years ago, I read an article entitled, “How to Develop a Christian Mean Streak.” I don’t remember the article in entirety, but if I recall, the writer’s point, it was that we Christians work awfully hard at being nice. Sometimes, however, even nice Christian people have to assert themselves. Like most people, I’ve got a mean streak, though I’m not sure I’d always call it a Christian one. Paul’s mean streak is on display in this passage. He’s frustrated with false teachers who have proclaimed the gospel for their own gain. He’s personally offended, and hurt, that his friends in Corinth are making fun of him. You hear what they’re saying, “He talks a good game for a little scrawny guy.” Or, “He sounds like a big shot in these letters he writes to us, but he’s not much in person.” But Paul’s anger is about more than being personally ridiculed. He can’t stand it that some Christians, thinking they’ve chosen a more prestigious leader, see themselves as superior to other Christians. In verse 7, Paul writes, “Look at what is before your eyes. If you are confident that you belong to Christ, remind yourself of this, that just as you belong to Christ, so also do we.” Unfortunately, we Christians aren’t above name-dropping, prestige-seeking, and status-inflation. We do it in subtle ways by trying to elevate our standing in the Christian community by our association with a bishop, a teacher, a speaker. We do it by dropping hints about the books we’ve read or the seminars we’ve attended. We do it by listing the mission trips we’ve been on or the service hours we’ve logged. Clergy are probably worse than laity in this regard. The church should be the most democratic, egalitarian community on earth. For in the church, regardless of our wealth, education, social standing, or even ecclesiastical endorsement, we are all the same. We are all sinners for whom Christ died. We all belong to Christ. What difference would it make in the church if we looked at one another that way? In a world where our worth is so linked to our achievements and the names of people we could put on a guest list, wouldn’t it be refreshing if another basis for human relationships could come into view? What kind of model could the church be for the world if we could truly show people what it looks like to be bound to one another not because of similar worldly status, but simply by the fact that we belong to one another because we all belong to Christ? Working toward that kind of community might be something worth standing up for!
Thought for the day: As Christians, the source of true community and fellowship is the recognition that we all belong to Christ.
Prayer: O God, we often become sidetracked by trying to find ways to elevate our standing, our worth, our prestige in the eyes of others—and ourselves. When we are tempted in this way, remind us that regardless of the world’s estimation of us, we are all simply sinners in need of mercy. And let us be thankful that we need nothing more to remind us of our individual worth than to know that we belong to Christ. Amen.