The Focus of Paul

Saul of Tarsus, the Apostle Paul, is a Hebrew of Hebrews – exalted among the Jewish hierarchy – when the Messiah strikes him blind for three days and transforms his life.

From that day forward, he no longer concerns himself with the myriad of qualms that an observant Pharisee would have with the way Gentiles ordered their societies.

Does he stop believing that moral purity matters? Hardly! No one can read his treatises on taking off the old way of being human and putting on the new way and come away with any doubts about his dedication to radical holiness.

Does he stop believing that equality matters? By no means! He surrounds himself with fellow teachers and deacons and apostles, both male and female, slave and free, Jew and Gentile.

What changes, then? How does he go from being a brilliant Pharisee, zealously defending the Law of Moses, to a man in prison, preaching the kingdom of God?

1 Corinthians 1:21-25 NET

For since in the wisdom of God the world by its wisdom did not know God, God was pleased to save those who believe by the foolishness of preaching. For Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks ask for wisdom, but we preach about a crucified Christ, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

 

Most people believe they’re living life as wisely as they know how. Paul says they’re wrong — that not all things called “wisdom” are truly wise — but recognizes that if you attack them head-on, (if you try to get them to choke down what you value before they understand its worth) you will drive them to devour you rather than appreciate what you value. Fighting fire with fire only keeps firemen employed, and Satan is more than willing to sell ammunition to both sides of the culture war.

Where did Paul learn all that? From the one about whom it was written:

Isaiah 42:1-4 ESV

Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench
;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not grow faint or be discouraged
till he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his law.

Lord, forgive us for our petty obsessions and worries, and grant us the focus of Paul.

Written by: Nick Gill

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