From some corners of evangelical Christianity come the cries for apostolic ministry – ministries of authority, physical healing, signs, words of knowledge, prophesy, and the “supernatural.” The desire is for apostolic results. But, what about the apostolic kind of life that goes with it? These results did not come through empty vessels but through men shaped by asceticism, hardship, resistance, and prayer. A modern apostle might say, “It doesn’t matter. The supernatural is God’s work. It matters little how I live or who I am.” The Apostle Paul would disagree.
In 1 Corinthians 4.9-16, the Apostle Paul, from first hand experience, describes what being an apostle looks like:
- last of all
- sentenced to death
- a spectacle to the world, angels and others
- a fool for Christ’s sake
- held in disrepute
- hungry and thirsty
- poorly dressed
- involved in manual labor
- reviled yet blesses
- persecuted yet endures
- slandered yet speaks well of the slanderers
- the scum of the world
- rejected like garbage
Contrast this with the modern-day “apostle,” who is trying hard to be:
Paul’s description could easily be dismissed as only applying to first century apostles. If only he had not gone on to say,
I admonish you because you have countless guides who want to tell you how to live but not many fathers who are actual examples of how to live. That’s why I say, “live as I live; imitate me.”
You and I are not apostles. But we are to become apostle-like Christians as Paul describes. This is at the core of our journey with Jesus Christ and his apostles.
It is a journey to nothingness.
In his second letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle writes, “Always carrying in the body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies” (4.10). Nothingness is the place we experience everything good.
It is only in dying that we experience real life.
Do you know much about the Apostles? Unfortunately, I don’t.
Today, let’s find out more about these men who changed the world in their living and in their dying.
Spoiler alert: with one exception, they all died as martyrs. How did they live? How did they die? Let’s do some research. Then, let’s do some self-examination in light of what we find.
Share below a gem that you discover and how it impacts you. And share this post with others.