Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I learned something new today...

While cruising the Internet I ran across something that caught my eye and I felt a need to see what it was... It was link to Scum of the Earth Church in Denver, CO. Considering that for almost the first 4 decades of my life I thought the only "scriptural name" for a body of believers was "The Church of Christ (Romans 16:16)", seeing a name like this was at the very least...intriguing.

I mean by what mandate can they call themselves "scum of the earth" - that's not even biblical!

So, I followed the link and read about them - a group of believers that are reaching out to those that are broken - just like Christ did. They obviously have some new ideas about what Church is about and how to spread the Gospel. Almost immediately, I saw - at the very top of the web page - the scripture. The very kind of thing I have done myself - a scripture that describes their personal mission and drive...below it quoted the previously mentioned scripture. As I read I was CERTAIN that they were using some strange pseudo-translation (commentary) and I was also CERTAIN that they had used creative licence on the "scum of the earth" reference. So I pulled out my trusty NIV and here's what I read...

1 Corinthians 4:11-14

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. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.

I had to read it twice, then I went back and read the whole chapter. I remembered the chapter, but the part that we always focus on when studying this passage is Paul chastising Apollos and his followers. It really says scum of the earth!?!? (yeah, KJV says "filth of the earth", but I still don't do the "King's English" very well).

Reading back through the passage the part that really calls to me is this - "when we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly". I have been called to endure much in the last few years and the way that I have responded to much of it has been a topic of debate and dismay for my friends and family. They want me to rise up and stand up for myself - to get what I am entitled, to play dirty like those around me...to stoop to their level.

Paul got it - he was (and IS) trying to tell us that you can't stoop down farther than you already are! How do you stoop down to someone else's level when you are already at the bottom - already the "scum of the earth"? Answer - you don't. You answer kindly...

Earlier in the chapter Paul says that we have no business judging others - that's God's job and God will take care of it. "It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God." 1 Cor. 4:4-5 He goes on to say "For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?" 1 Cor. 4:7 God provides - he provides everything we need including judgement for those around us...leave that to Him.

I learned something new today - don't judge a book by it's cover or a Church by it's name.

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"...Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:7-18