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Journey to Bethlehem, Our Christmas Devotional Day 12 1 Corinthians 4:8-13

Thursday, December 13

1 Corinthians 4:8-13

Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you! 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. 10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless,12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things. 

Born-again Christians are like tautologies, for all genuine Christians are “born again.” Our first birth was into the flesh; the second, the “again,” was into the spirit, by means of the Spirit. That’s the order of things as God would have it for us—born into time before born into eternity, without exceptions.

Both births are messy and painful. All Moms and some Dads know the first mess; but it’s the Moms who know the pain. All apostles and the mature in the Lord know the second mess; but it’s the apostles like St. Paul who knew the pain. 

Both births are gifts from God, the author of all being except his own. It’s God who brings us uninvited into existence by using Moms and Dads to perform births natural to the creation. But for eternal existence, God uses Jesus and the Holy Spirit to perform supernatural births within the creation.

St. Paul knew this. He knew that his existence then and forever came directly from God—the same God who gave his ancestors the Torah, the same God who gave us all the cross. St. Paul knew what he had received.

St. Paul’s audience in Corinth were on the threshold of his sort of knowing, but short of crossing over. They were like the young who regard their births as entitlements until experience teaches them otherwise. The gangly Corinthians felt entitled to eternity.

So, he set them straight. This is the messiness of second births, this pimply spiritual adolescence that the suffering of the cross can season and burnish into elders and apostles, the solid rock of the church, the ones who bless when reviled, who endure when persecuted, who entreat when slandered.

If we are truly born-again.

Lord, make us the scum of the world, the refuse of all things. Amen.