1 Cor 4:9,13

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.

13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.

That last verse is what got me when I looked up those words. You know the ones 

Scum.

Refuse.

That’s us! 

Scum: 1 off scouring, refuse. 2 metaph. 2A the most abject and despicable men. 2B the price of expiation or redemption, because the Greeks used to apply the term “katharmata” to victims sacrificed to make expiation for the people, and even to criminals who were maintained at the public expense, that on the outbreak of a pestilence or other calamity they might be offered as sacrifices to make expiation for the state.

Strong, James. Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1995.

Did you catch that? Prisoners kept to be sacrificed for the salvation of the nation. That’s us! We are being kept around here, salt and light of the world, for moments when the world needs to be saved. Then we are offered to the ‘gods’ to keep them happy and to keep destruction away! That’s not far from the truth of the Kingdom of Heaven. 

The fields are ripe for the harvest and there aren’t enough workers. Jesus said that. There are all kinds of people ready to become Christians, but there are prisoners being saved to be sacrifices that won’t leave the comfort of their cells! There are katharmata clans hiding in fitness clubs training for battle but only instagramming with their muscles! 

Maybe we’ll get some insight from the next one: 

Refuse: 1 what is wiped off. 2 dirt rubbed off. 3 off scouring, scrapings. Additional Information: The Athenians, in order to avert public calamities, yearly threw a criminal into the sea as an offering to Poseidon; hence the term became used for an expiatory offering, a ransom, for our child, i.e. in comparison with the saving of our son’s life let it be to us a despicable and worthless thing. It is used of a man who in behalf of religion undergoes dire trials for the salvation of others.

Strong, James. Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1995.

Sorry team, but this one’s worse! Paul says we’re like the scrapings that come off of the thing you clean. We aren’t even the thing doing the cleaning or, as I so wish to be, the glorious thing being cleaned! 

We are servants of Christ, stewards of God’s mysteries, (v1) and the junk that you pour out after running vinegar through your coffee pot. Maybe we should not take ourselves so seriously! 

And that’s the point, right? The only way to wield all of the power of the God of the universe is to be as humble as Christ Himself was. It doesn’t mean we self-degrade and woe is me ourselves all over the place. It means that maybe we could be a little less self-righteous and serve some lowly folks. 

Paul asks it right in the middle of this section. It’s worth asking in terms of how we used to look and how we look compared to the world: 

For who sees anything different in you?

1 Corinthians 4:7

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