“To this very moment we go hungry and thirsty; we are clothed in rags; we are beaten;
we wander from place to place”.
1 Cor 4:11 GNB
In the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta “The Pirates of Penzance” the one song told of the policeman’s lament, “A policeman’s lot is not a happy one” .
For Paul an apostle’s lot was not a happy one either. There might have been in the first instance the thrill of being called by God and chosen to go to the Gentile world with the message of Jesus and his truth, his gospel and his grace. But that exhilaration died away as the reality began to play out in the sheer hard slog of getting round the Mediterranean world on foot, preaching an alien gospel to people who were already well steeped in their own faith. He and the other apostles met with opposition and sometimes what was worse than opposition, indifference. They were physically attacked, and beaten. The word that has got translated “beaten” was the usual word employed to describe a master beating a slave. To be a Christian apostle was not to be revered or respected. It was to be treated like a slave. Far from being a place of privilege, it was a position of danger, suffering and sacrifice.
Jesus does not invite anyone to a life of comfort and ease, prosperity and privilege. To be his servant means to be ill-treated and ignored, to suffer violence and abuse, ridicule and rejection. Sometimes people respond to the message and the apostle witnesses the sheer joy of bringing another disciple to (spiritual) birth. But the way is hard. The work is difficult and the suffering is heavy. But the reward is eternal.
Lord, let me be prepared to pay whatever price may be necessary to serve you.