Celebrating a wedding anniversary many years ago brought the delightful experience of travelling through the narrow man-made, 3.9 mile Corinth Canal, en-route to Patmos and Ephesus. To appreciate this engineering marvel meant staying up way past normal bed time but it was worth it. The night was cloudless allowing the beauty of a full moon to highlight the passage and the sides of the canal with great effect. So close were the walls, the shrubs could easily be touched!
The Canal links the Gulf of Corinth with the Aegean Sea, and was originally started by the brutal Emperor Nero, but was then abandoned shortly after his death in AD 67. The project was only revived again in the nineteenth century, being finally completed in 1893, thus enabling ships to access the west more quickly from the major Greek port of Piraeus and other parts of Greece, rather than the lengthy voyage of sailing around the Peloponnese Peninsula.
This ancient city of the 1st century, located on the Isthmus of Corinth, became famous for the Isthmian Games, a festival of athletic and musical competitions in honour of the sea god Poseidon. Standing within the city centre, overlooking the market place, stood the towering Temple of Aphrodite which, according to historians, accommodated thousands of sacred prostitutes, projecting the Corinth as a city of sin and vice. Such was its notoriety in history that the archaic English verb to ‘Corinthianise’ means to live a promiscuous life.
In the year AD50, the Apostle Paul visited this most modern and industrial city of its day1, establishing a church in partnership with other believers who had a vibrant hope in the return of Jesus Christ.2, declaring that ‘God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe’.3
Paul’s first letter to this new church shows just how difficult it must have been for Christians to maintain their testimony in a pagan environment, but this surely provides us with salutary teaching as we seek to live for Christ in similar conditions today.
As then and always, committing one’s life to Jesus Christ isn’t easy, in some ways; it gets more difficult after we come to Christ. The struggle against sin is more pronounced, for one thing, laziness, gluttony, swearing, anger, envy, self-centeredness, materialism, covetousness, intimacy issues—the temptations seem never-ending. The world, the flesh, and the devil don’t go away because we have stepped into a relationship with Christ.
Why you ask? Because we must now confront our lives from a different worldview that comes with a new set of values—God’s values. Before we are saved, we accept what the world says without even thinking about it. We don’t know anything else. After we are saved, our eyes are opened to the truth, and we can perceive the lies of the world. Fighting against those lies can be difficult; we’re suddenly swimming upstream, against the current of the world around us.
Friends no longer understand us; our families question our new involvements and associations. Those we love often feel rejected, angry, and defensive. They don’t see why we can no longer continue in our old ways, and just to put a final spin on this, Luke in his Gospel records the actual words of our Lord Jesus Christ:
What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man.4
It’s a big learning curve as we constantly say “NO”, but hey, that’s only part of the story, there’s a positive side to this post and it’s this:
When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven! And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way.5
And coming back to where we began with the Apostle Paul who declares from the roof tops:
For I am determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.6
And his secret?
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.7
Still nervous? Don’t be, go to: www,biblestudytools.com. ‘25 Best Bible verses for Times of Adversity’. Find them in your bible, underline each one, kneel before the LORD, read them aloud repeatedly, one by one. My most favourite verse is to be found in Isaiah 54:17. Maranatha!
Tags: Britannica.com. Marine Insight.com. Precious Seed. Bible Study Tools. The Bible 1Acts 18; 21 Cor 1:8; 31 Cor 1:21; 4Luke 6:22 NLT; 5 Luke 6:23 NLT; 61 Cor.2:2; 7Philippians 4:12-13;