Paul gets a little crazy in this chapter. He admits it. But he’s going out of his mind because these foolish Corinthians seem to think that Paul is a weak, you-got-nuthin’ pushover because he isn’t demanding enough. It seems the Corinthians expect their “elders” to slap them around a little.
Everyone has seen the photo of Marilyn Monroe with the breeze blowing up her skirt. Less known is that her husband, Joe Dimaggio, went nuts when he heard about the shoot. Thinking his wife was acting like a tramp in front of dozens of drooling male photographers, he beat her that night. When a woman friend told her indignantly that no woman should let her man hit her, Monroe answered, “any man who didn’t treat me that way wouldn’t be much of a man.”
Like the troubled sex goddess of the 50’s, the bride of Christ in Corinth seems to think they deserve mistreatment. Some Strong Man spirit of condemnation or respect for false authority has made them think their “betters” should validate their status by abusing them. Conversely they despise the servant who loves them in patience, kindness and truth.
In this way Paul's agony reminds me of the Lord, and of his Father. How often an Old Testament prophet says God’s people despised His many blessings and only sought God when as a grudging “Plan B” He allowed them to undergo affliction. Neither God nor Paul his messenger desire to harm their beloved, and they are grieved when their beloved expects mistreatment from them as some twisted sign of authority.
Empathy and abuse cannot coexist. Paul says in verse 29, “Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?” This is like the Lord. In her wonderful novel “The Road to Cana”, Ann Rice describes Jesus, wandering in the wilderness, suddenly aware of the anguish of each and every troubled soul on earth. Tonight, as I experience my first night of many as the old Page living at 144 Mansfield Avenue, I know that Jesus is with me, that in His compassion he “sorrows with me”, to use the term coined by our sister Michelle Jaquith. The lover of my soul may chastise me for my benefit – as Paul disciplines the Corinthians - but He will never abuse me. I am His beloved. He loves me.