Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Paul's frustration as an apostle for Jesus


The assumption in culture today is that if I am happy than God is happy with me. If I am frustrated or thwarted than God is not happy with me.

Let's look at how Paul lived as an apostle for Jesus.
First, Paul was loved, chosen, and called by Jesus as an apostle-one sent out to tell people the Good News of forgivenss through Jesus. Paul ran his 'race' well, and God is pleased with him.

2. When Paul encountered Jesus he completely lost his vision. After receiving Jesus something amazing happened to Paul, he DIDN'T receive his sight back...at least right away, but had to walk around blind until his friend Ananias was used of God to heal Paul (Acts 9).
3. Paul continually faced frustration & contention from the Judaisers. If it were me, I would pray that God would either bring them to Christ or get rid of them. But these Judaisers were allowed to bother Paul & hurt the young church throughout his ministry.
4. Paul was given some kind of 'thorn in the flesh'. He prayed three times that God would get rid of it. God told him no, he was stuck with it. 2 Corinthians 12:7 teaches that Paul was GIVEN this thorn to keep him from bragging/arrogance.
5. Paul was put in jail several times, when he could have been out sharing the Good News. This, at a surface level seems like a waste of time, energy, and resources. Why did God allow this?
6. Paul was beaten for Christ, his ship sunk, he was bitten by a venomous snake, he went hungry, was left for dead. Why would God allow this to happen to Paul? (2 Cor. 11:23-35; Acts 27)
7. He had arguments, heated arguments with other apostles (good men), such as Barnabas. He was abandoned by Christian friends (Acts 15:39; 2 Timothy 4).
8. He was forbidden from going to Rome, even though he tried and tried to go there. His reasons for going were noble, but God did not open the door for him (Romans 1:13; 15:22-24).

So what was his response? Did he become jaded, pessimistic, feel hurt by God, believe that God didn't really care about him?

Philippians 4:9–13 (NAS)

9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. 10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Paul understood that God was sovereign, and he came to a point where he was at peace and in submission to God's sovereignty, and care for Paul. Paul was engaged in the calling that Jesus gave him. He new that Jesus would enable him to do whatever Jesus wanted him to do. He rested in the love that he had in Christ. Therefore, problems, thorns, hindrances, sin, lost their power to put a damper on Paul's attitude and perspective. God has given you adequate help, in Christ, to have this same attitude and perspective. The choice is ours what angle we will live from, what attitude/perspective we will allow to color our world.

In addition, I don't see Paul being a jaded or hopeless person. He was content, in peace with his position/lot. He was joyful to serve his Lord, in spite of the difficulty that it brought. Eventually, God even allowed Paul to be martyred (probably beheaded in Rome, under Nero) as the grand exit to his race of life. What a way to go!

I think it was safe to say that God loved Paul & was pleased with him. However, if you looked at his life from an animistic angle, you may think that God hated him. Good thing God is not an animistic type of God! Jesus is our propitiation, through which we can have peace with God & have a sonship/daughtership with him. May we be encouraged by this.

2 comments:

  1. Hey Jeff, my name is John. I read a lot of blogs on religion and prayer and I've i feel like I've ended up here once before. I'd love to hear your thoughts about this prayer exchange website PrayerMarket.com I thought it was an interesting idea and would be curious to hear what you (or other Christians) think about it

    I'll check back here in the next day or two, thanks & God bless
    John W.

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  2. John, some will find value in this. I won't participate in this. I have plenty of things to pray for (persecuted church, self, family, my church, missionaries we support, things I hear on the radio) and wouldn't even consider mixing money with prayer.
    I would recommend that people who have prayer needs get connected to the Body of Christ locally, so they can be lifted up in prayer.

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