With this blog, I am turning a corner to focus our attention on the Apostle Paul. As I study his life and letters, they continually amaze me with the mere volume of truth they unfold, particularly the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This does not mean for a moment that any of the other writers of any sixty-six books of the Bible have any less value or meaning. Yet, his life alone was extraordinary!
Even though Paul “opposed [Peter] to his face, because he stood condemned” (Galatians 2:11), Peter speaks so generously of Paul as “our beloved brother Paul” (2 Peter 3:15). This is the kind of friendship that is built on truth and not just human likes and mutual interests. What is of even more interest is that these two men came from entirely different life-styles. Peter, a fisherman by trade (Luke 5:1-2); Paul was “educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers” (Acts 22:3). Even with such differences, they are bound together in Christ.
In these two men we see a model of working through the details of life until they discovered a common bond in the gospel through the working of the Spirit in them. We often find affinity with others based on personalities that work well together, or having the same interests or pursuits in life, or even the same status in our cultures. None of that mattered to Paul. He would associate with a well-to-do merchant in Philippi (Lydia) or a jailkeeper (Acts 16).
As we examine the life of this dear servant, we must let the facts of his life challenge our own. There is no question that his first passion expressed itself in wanting to harm the early Christians, until he met Jesus face to face; then his passion drove him to the point of being willing to die for the gospel of Jesus Christ. As I look at his love for Jesus, it makes me want to be more like him!
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