“It seems to me that God has given the very last place
to us apostles, like people condemned to die in public as a spectacle for the whole world of angels and of humanity”.
1 Cor 4:9 GNB
Sometimes Christian leaders are accorded significance and respect. But often they are despised and sneered at. Much depends on the person and the circumstances.
Paul had in mind the Roman triumphal march. At the conclusion of great military victories the successful general would bring the troops back together with the cream of the population that had been conquered. It was a great celebration, marching thus through the streets of Rome. But bringing up the rear would be the rulers including the kings or princes of the conquered territory. And they were already condemned to death. That was where Paul saw himself and his fellow apostles, in fact among the despised and rejected. The life of an apostle was no bed of roses. He had no permanent residence and just roamed around. Sometimes he would be welcomed as a teacher. Often he would be fought with as an enemy. To take up the work was itself an act of renunciation – a voluntary dying with Christ. Then to suffer criticism, unfavourable comparisons with others and to have to undertake pastoral work with some who opposed him – this was the work of the cross. Only those who saw themselves taking up the cross could undertake it. And Paul did. So did the other apostles. It was to invite trouble and to court danger.
Always understand what the cost of discipleship is. In many places to be a believer is to invite ridicule and enmity, contempt and rejection. But then that is to follow where Christ led.
Lord, make me ready to die with you if the need arises.