The Way of Life of an Apostle

For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. 1 Corinthians 4:9
We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored!
To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless.

There was this extravagant love in the life of the apostle Paul which constantly took him outside his “comfort zone” into the places where it really cost him to serve Jesus Christ. A true apostle of Jesus Christ is so transformed by the love of God that he will go to places where no one is lining up to give him money for services rendered; on the contrary, the true apostle does not hesitate to go to places where he will face outright hostility and the risk of great suffering because of his stand for the Kingdom of God. Paul was such a man. He always strived to preach where Christ was not known, so that he would not be building on another man’s foundation.

“And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation” (Romans 15:20)

If you are a popular minister in places where the gospel is well received, indeed you may enjoy a lot of earthly benefits. Its only natural for Christian people to shower love and appreciation on those they truly admire, but when you go out pioneering, you will experience a mixture of appreciation and scorn.

What are the “trappings” associated with the life and ministry of a true apostle? Is it necessarily a big building, a new car, a spacious house in a good area, an influential platform, a large gathering of “tithers” eager to “sow into the vision”? Those things may have their place and some may be called to enjoy them, but “apostolic credibility” does not and should not depend on the presence of these things.

Is being an apostle all about “being wise in Christ, being strong, and being distinguished” as Paul said the Corinthians were?

If so, why did Paul say

We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! ?

Is it true today that “God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. “?

How many of those claiming to be apostles today could say that about themselves?

It has become fashionable today to identify successful pentecostal ministers of the gospel as “apostles”. Its almost become part of the “branding” of certain individuals who want people to realize just how important they are, in case certain ignorant people have not understood it yet. But why do people hanker after the title of “apostle” if they do not wish to live according to the spirit of sacrifice that Paul spoke of?

1Co 4:11 To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless.

It can be quite perplexing to those of us who understand God’s ability to provide abundantly for our needs to come into situations where the provision doesn’t seem to be there for the ministry. I have been counselled myself at times to abandon the work of God if money was not forthcoming. It is almost considered a given that God would never send us into a situation in which we would have to suffer lack. People quote Hudson Taylor, the great founder of the China Inland Mission “God’s work, done in God’s way, will never lack God’s supply” as if this was a verse in the Bible. But while God does supply, there are also times of perplexing delay and seeming lack even for God’s choicest ministers. Paul experienced it, but he never lost his confidence in God. So if you ever find yourself in a position of perplexity, don’t give up.

Paul was an apostle, and he calls us just a few verses later in the passage to “imitate him”. “Therefore I urge you, imitate me.” (1 Corinthians 4:16)

Should we then imitate Paul in hungering and thirsting, being poorly clothed, beaten and homeless? Let’s look at the context to see what Paul was really getting at:

1Co 4:11 To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless.
1Co 4:12 And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure;
1Co 4:13 being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.
1Co 4:14 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you.
1Co 4:15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
1Co 4:16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me.
1Co 4:17 For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.

Paul wants us to imitate him as he imitates God the Father. Paul says, “I have begotten you through the gospel.” This is actually an amazing statement. Paul is claiming spiritual fatherhood in Christ Jesus. It is the gospel which is the seed which produces a new spiritual life. But along with the message, it is also required that the LIFE of divine fatherly love and self-sacrifice be demonstrated in the work of God. Paul has done this even to the extent that he has disregarded his own personal interests. He went out to preach the gospel and sacrifice himself for people even when there just wasn’t the financial backing for him to do this in comfort. And if I understand this passage correctly, Paul urges his readers to do the same kind of thing.

How often do we view the Great Commission as a matter of secondary importance? How often consider the whole thing to be “someone else’s problem”? For those whose lives are vitally united to God the Father through Jesus, the ministry of reconciliation is not “someone else’s problem”. Its not something we do only when we can do so in comfort. No, the love of God drives us on to go out and go forth even when

(a) we might hunger
(b) we might be poorly clothed
(c) we might be beaten
(d) we might be without a home
(e) we might have to do manual labor in addition to preaching and healing
(f) we might be reviled – people might speak bad of us
(g) we might be persecuted
(h) we might be defamed
(i) we might be viewed as the lowest of the low, as “dirt”.

If people were worth the Son of God dying for, then they are surely worth a few short temporal seasons of pain for us to REACH with the message and the LOVE of God.

This is the true spirit of apostleship. It is to go out of the comfort zone as Christ’s representative, and live as He lived in a world which does not yet understand or appreciate what you are doing.

“He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” (1 John 2:6)

What do YOU think?

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About Michael Fackerell

The Christian faith is about Jesus. He came to save the lost. About Jesus Christ, Bible teaching, Testimonies, Salvation, Prayer, Faith, Networking.

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