Paul saves his most ironic comments for the Corinthian church and his words should challenge us who are Christian believers in the first world. We seek God for greater and greater blessing, we want it all now, yet many of us are already living the good life. We want the experiences which Apostles like Paul experienced without the loss and pain which they endured! We are living a superficial life wherein small sacrifices are seen by us as huge commitments and yet our brothers and sisters in countries such as Vietnam, China and India often have to endure their church buildings being burned down, their Pastors persecuted, their careers ended because of their faith in Jesus. I'm not saying that we should make our lives deliberately difficult and I've known of plenty of Christians who have been very difficult people and whenever anyone has opposed their behaviour have acted as if they were being persecuted for Christ's sake! I'm saying that, if you were God, who would you pour out your blessings upon? Us in the first world who, like the Corinthian church, have so much already? Or in areas where fellowships are beaten and battered? We must recognise our privilege and the fact that this has been built on martyrs over hundreds of years. Tertullian, who lived in the second century and is considered to have been the founder of Western theology, stated: 'The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church', by which he not only meant that martyrdom is an essential requisite of a developing Church, but also that it is through martyrdom that the Church grows and blossoms. Many Christians talk about going back to doing things as the Early Church did, but we are living in a vastly different context and without the persecution they endured. On the outside, Paul's life was tough as he describes here. He worked full time making tents, so that he didn't need a wage from the churches he led and he endured all sorts of trials in his travelling. One of my favourite Bible passages in terms of its power of description is Acts 27, where Luke describes the shipwreck and near-drowning which Paul endured. The Christians in the Early Church lived radically differently from those around them. In what ways can you live radically differently too?
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