Archive for apostle Paul

2014 Lent 31

Posted in Lent 2014, Reflection with tags , , , on April 9, 2014 by timtrue


Psalm 128

Okay, I’m done with I Corinthians.  The lectionary offers a selection from II Corinthians today, but, as you may have discerned, I’ve reached my saturation point with the apostle Paul for now.  He’s a good friend, don’t get me wrong.  But he’s one of those friends that I need a break from now and again, so that our friendship will be that much better the next time we get together.

That said, Psalm 128 is a good place to turn now.  The guest Paul has made his visit.  In that time my family and I have shown him a lot of hospitality.  What this has meant for our family life–at least for parts of it–is that things have been put on hold.  The typical family meal, for instance, wherein we usually are able to let our guards completely down, talk, laugh, and argue about whatever, or hold those needed family meetings, or whatever–we haven’t been able to do this as freely as we’d like with our guest here.

Too, we’ve enjoyed late-night conversations with and otherwise entertained him, meaning our usual focus upon each other has been turned Paul-ward.

That’s often how it is with guests, yeah?  Regular life is temporarily interrupted.

But now he’s packed up and gone on his way, to enjoy another host’s hospitality for a while.  And my family, somewhat relieved, is able to turn its attention back on one another.

There’s always something of a re-entry time.  That is, after a guest’s visit we always need to readjust our lifestyle a bit to settle into the former routine.  We’ve been focusing so much on accommodating someone else that we’ve neglected each other.  It’s usually in small ways, ways perhaps we aren’t even conscious of.  But it’s there all right!  And the result is typically a few days of increased drama.

But once the chaos induced by the guest’s stay has had its way, we seem to settle well enough into our general routine of family meals, making music, playing games, spending time alone in a quiet corner of the house, walking the dog, helping out with homework, catching up on missed television shows (for those who are into this sort of thing), and so on.  It’s family life.  And, as they say, it is what it is.  But when it’s all said and done, it’s a downright good life.

That’s the essence of this psalm.  There is true blessing in a family around a table.  There’s genuine peace in a person’s seeing his children’s children.

2014 Lent 20

Posted in Lent 2014, Reflection with tags , , , on March 27, 2014 by timtrue

I Corinthians 9:1-15

“O-oh we’re halfway there, / O-oh living on a prayer.”

These words of Jon Bon Jovi are a tribute to all of us who’ve embarked on some kind of Lenten discipline this year.  Yep, today marks the halfway point.  Hang in there!  You can do it!

But what’s Bon Jovi got to do with today’s passage?

I’m sure Jon Bon Jovi didn’t go into music thinking he’d make a lot of money at it–though he has.  I’m sure it wasn’t some sort of enslaving obligation for him, some drudgery that he hated facing day after day, practicing guitar and singing only to fulfill a sadistic obligation foisted upon him by a cruel music-teacher-tyrant.  Rather, he got into music because he loved it; he felt some sort of passion for it, a conviction that it was somehow the right thing for him to do.

Well, the apostle Paul did the same thing.

No, I don’t mean he learned the guitar at a young age, skipped a lot of school, and played and sang in dimly lit clubs, doing whatever work he could find to get by.  But he had a similar passion and conviction–for promoting the good news of Christ.  And he did in fact do whatever work he could to get by.

For Paul is was making tents.  It was seen as demeaning work to some.  But it paid the bills and allowed him the freedom to take the gospel with him wherever the spirit led.

One of the places he took the gospel was Corinth, the Las Vegas of the ancient world.  And, lo and behold, people there believed the message and an assembly of believers soon formed.  This must have been exciting for Paul, something like Jon Bon Jovi experiencing his first song to play on the radio, “Runaway” (in 1982), becoming an overnight local hit.  But still he sought no pay for his work–Paul, that is, not JBJ.

But, unfortunately, the Corinthians apparently turned Paul’s philanthropy against him, saying (something like) that he asked for no pay because he himself knew he deserved no pay, that he was something of a fraud.

Don’t you hate that!  You do something nice for someone and they use it against you!

But Paul had personal liberty to do make tents, right?  He could continue his demeaning, lower-class work (very likely how the Corinthians viewed it) for the sake of the advancement of the gospel if he wanted to; just as JBJ had liberty to sweep his cousin’s studio while pursuing a career in rock and roll if he wanted to, which he in fact did.

So my point comes in the form of a question: why use someone’s liberty against him?  Why be like the Corinthians and turn a person’s choice–generated from a spirit of philanthropy and generosity no less!–into an opportunity for division?