I remember reviewing the letters of Paul in bible study. In doing so I was constantly reminded that one cannot look at Paul without really seeing Jesus’ amazing handywork. Now you need to know that I think Paul is an awesome person when it comes to the story of his life. I haven’t found a biography or autobiography of anyone in or outside of the ‘good book’ who comes close to my admiration for Paul; Jesus notwithstanding.
Because the two are so closely associated with one another, I can’t help but consider the impact of this tandem on human history. Just in case someone wants to debate me on this by bringing up the lives of the 12 apostles, I have considered them as well as the prophets and I’m just one of those who is in awe of Paul. A very large part of the bible is devoted to Paul’s building of the early church at a time when who you worshipped was a life and death decision. Paul himself says in his letters to the church in Corinth, there was indeed a point to his suffering and persecution and the basis for most, if not all, of what he went through was 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 persecutions, 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 eventual proliferation of the church worldwide. It also makes the point of how the lives of so few have impacted and influenced so many in the world then, and the world as we know it today. Forgive me if I find this a rather fascinating fact. Paul is who he is because of his 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 the world in which we currently live. 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 the attack of the world, since it is in the world where Satan has power.
I think Paul’s good news is there is a place of refuge when this happens. He uses himself as an example to follow. If I surrender my weaknesses to the power of Christ and subjugate my will to that of the Lord’s, then I become empowered to deal with whatever is thrown my way. Life, the Christian life, is funny that way. It places what I have described as a bulls-eye on your back, designed to distinguish you from those non believers around you. It, your faith, also sets you up and apart to do great things in the name of Jesus Christ, my personal Lord and Savior. I guess what I’m really saying is when the going gets extremely tough, check the human being Paul. Like Christ he’s been through and has experienced the worst that life has to offer.But because of his belief system, he’s experienced the best of God’s promises.
It’s like a refresher course and I just wanted to let you know where I go during difficult times. You might also find some answers there. The point I’m trying to make is that in the eyes of God, one’s weaknesses are welcomed opportunities for God to show up and show out. Have you ever wondered why those who have been through so much are able to stand and witness for Christ? Reexamine the reality of God’s grace and you just might get your answer.
May God bless and keep you always, James (firstname.lastname@example.org)