Scumbag. Keep reading.. ;)
Don’t let the title fool you. We’re going great places today. 🙂
I’ve started a lot of “projects” lately. I dumped the trash at our apartment’s garbage compactor the other day and saw this dresser sitting out there. You already know where I’m going with this, don’t you? Maybe you’ve done the same thing. (Cough, cough, Suzanne and the awesome yellow chair..) There wasn’t much at all wrong with it. And I thought, “Nate Berkus would sooooo pick this bad boy up and do a DIY makeover on it.” So I asked the random stranger to help me load it in my van. Yep. Well, he lived at the apartment too so we’re basically neighbors. Strangers are scary people that try to lure kids into windowless vans with candy and creepy smiles.
I’ve also been on this little mini adventure of reading different books of the bible all the way through. I hate to say I’ve gotten bored with the bible in a year reading plan app, but I have. I can’t keep the same routine for too long or I get bored with it. ADD moments take over and suddenly I’m on a different subject altogether. So I’m picking different books to study and trying to grasp the life lessons and concepts with each one. It’s been pretty awesome so far! I just finished Daniel and absolutely loved reading about one of our major heroes of the faith. Now I’m in 1 Corinthians, written by Paul, another interesting Superman of the gospel.
A paragraph in 1 Corinthians 4 caught me off guard and sent me into a moment of joy and just pure elation this morning. Backing up a little to who Paul was before he was saved makes this book so much sweeter. If you know anything about him, you probably know he was formerly Saul – the Hitler of the biblical era. He persecuted Christians. He hated them with such deep hatred. Christians fled from him in fear of their lives. One day he has an encounter with God on his way to Damascus leaving him temporarily blind. He surrenders his life to Christ and begins to preach and teach the gospel. Wow. Talk about an extreme 180 turnaround.
I was floored at the words he speaks in 1 Corinthians 4:9-13. Check this out. You’ve got to read it for yourself. It’s so powerful! “For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! 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.”
This man before his life altering experience with Christ was, to be bluntly honest, pretty much a scumbag. He went from being the one throwing stones at the good guys to being the one receiving the bruises on the other end of the rock. Here he is writing that he and his friends spreading the good news about Jesus are homeless, poorly nourished, thirsty, hard working, dishonored, cursed and regarded as garbage of the earth. Nice résumé, huh?
Back up with me to chapter 1 in verses 27-29. God uses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise and the weak to shame the strong. So that no one may boast before him. So that NO ONE would BOAST before him. We’re pretty prideful creatures, aren’t we? “Oh, look what I did! Look what I achieved!” We don’t give credit where credit is due. We wallow around in self absorption and pride. Yet the humble are those who rise up and do great things for the kingdom of God.
There is no way on earth that Paul or any of the disciples could have accomplished these great and astounding things on their own. Heck, Paul would still be persecuting Christians. They weren’t the most prestigious and pious in their hometowns. Many grew up being trained in the trades of their fathers. They worked mediocre jobs until Jesus came along and rocked their world and made them fishers of men.
I love the way the NIV bible puts it in 1 Corinthians 4:10. “We are FOOLS for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! You are honored, we are dishonored!” God doesn’t have a straight-A, honor club, first class requirement for his sons and daughters. He’s calling the less than perfects. He wants the losers and gangsters. He desires the undesirables and skid row occupants. He wants the fools and stuttering lips and those who can’t keep steady jobs. He wants the tattooed, mohawked, pierced and goths. He’s paid for the Wanted Ads for the druggies, drunks, prostitutes and thieves. He died for us who were scumbags like Saul and so desperately wants us to have an amazing encounter with Him and create a beautiful relationship with us until the end of time.
He. Just. Wants. You. He knows that if He can reach your heart, the rest of you will straighten up eventually. He isn’t demanding pristine perfection and egg shell walkers. He comes to the ditch we’ve found ourselves in, cleans us up, and brings us to the big family dinner table and shows us off like one proud papa. “See this one? They’re mine. I love them unconditionally. And don’t you dare say a word about them. Their price has been paid, just like yours. Now let’s see what they’re capable of…”
Live Life Unscripted,
Philippians 4:13 "I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me."
Jesus, I thank you for accepting a jacked up frizzy haired mess like me. I've screwed up more times than I can count, yet you died for me before I ever knew you existed. You've called us scumbags to be heirs and sons and daughters with royal blood running through our veins. I pray we accept the calling You've placed on our lives as individuals and walk boldly where you lead us. Help us to burn our filthy rags and put on your armor with gracefulness and humility. Thank you for loving us so deeply. I love you.