Everybody has favorites in the Bible. Mine just happens to be Paul. I just think he was an awesome individual. You can’t look at his handiwork and not see Jesus’ hand in everything. When it comes to Paul’s story, I haven’t found a biography (auto) of anyone else in or out of the “Good Book” who comes close to this level of my admiration, Jesus notwithstanding. I guess because the two are so closely associated with one another,
I can’t help but consider the impact of this tandem on human history. Some of you might want to remind me of the 12 apostles, whom I have also considered, as well as a prophet or two. For me, just know Paul is the one.
A substantial part of the Bible is devoted to Paul’s building of the early church in a time when whom you worshiped was literally a life-and-death decision. Paul says in his letters to the church in Corinth that there was indeed a point to his suffering and persecution. Its basis was for the most part, if not all of what he went through, a byproduct of his faith in Jesus Christ. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I (Paul) will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecution, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10. This kind of thinking and belief led to the proliferation of the church worldwide. It also makes the point of how the lives of so few have impacted and influenced the ancient world and the world we know today.
Forgive me if I find this rather a fascinating fact. Paul is who he is because of a unique one-on-one encounter with Christ. That encounter changed him and ultimately the world in which we live. If that be true, then our individual encounters with Christ should also have a profound effect on us and subsequently, the world in which we live. I am reminded that it is not unusual for new Christians to come under attack by old friends. It is also not unusual for new Christians to come under attack from a world where Satan has some sway. I think Paul’s good news is there is a place of refuge when this happens. He uses himself as an example for us to follow. If I submit my weaknesses to the power of Christ, then I become empowered to deal with what whatever is thrown my way. Life, the Christian life, is funny that way. It places what I have described as a target on your back that distinguishes you from those nonbelievers around you. Your faith also sets you up to do great things in the name of Christ the savior.
I guess what I’m struggling to communicate is when the going gets extremely tough, check out Paul. Like Christ, he too went through the worst that life has to offer and perpetrated a good deal of evil along the way. You know he was a murderer of Christians; volunteered for the job, from my recollection. Yet because of his belief system after his Christ encounter, he experienced the best of God’s promises. We still recognize his work on that issue today. Paul’s life is like a refresher course for all of us who deep down cannot shake the memories of where we came from. I just wanted to let you know where I go at those times. You might want to venture there yourself to find the answers you seek.
May God bless and continue to keep you always.