"Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become its (the Church's) servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness" - Colossians 1:24-25 NIV "It is service to a cause greater than oneself that inspires the greatest form of leadership."
- Jeff Franco Whether in academic circles or not the mention of the name Paul among Christians is met with great adoration. Very few people have any other opinion of the Apostle save that he was a great writer, speaker, leader, theologian, philosopher and the list goes on. However, this view of Paul is more akin to myth and legend than complete reality. Make no mistake he was an admirable leader, but for different reasons than we first think. We often admire people based on the body of their work, the whole and not just the part. Pick the person you admire most and it's almost a guarantee you'll remember the great things about them while you overlook the not so good. And this isn't all bad. The reason we do this is that we judge based on how a person has impacted us and those around them. We look at the good which causes us to interpret the not so good as acceptable. (Make no mistake I'm not referring to sin in that which is "not so good".) Upon a further examination of the Apostle, we see that he wasn't always what we've made him out to be. In fact, scripture says Paul wasn't always easy to understand. (2 Peter 3:16) Albeit this critique was from misguided people. We also read that Paul preached long sermons... that literally bored people to death! (Acts 20:9) I know a little tongue and cheek but you get the point. Further, Paul is said to be bold and intimidating, unimpressive and not a very good speaker. (2 Cor. 10:10) All in all, this doesn't sound a thing like what we described in the beginning. So why all the Adoration? It's based on service to a cause that was and is greater than the man himself. This is why Paul is viewed so glowingly, he was the church's servant. Paul's walk matched his talk. The very letter we're reading was written from a prison cell. Why was he in prison? Because he was serving God's church. Like Paul, our lives are intended for this very same service. The scripture says that we were "bought at a price" and that we are, "therefore to honor God with our bodies." (1 Cor. 6:20) Whether through verbal gospel declaration or gospel living (also known as Holiness) we're to serve the greater cause. Paul's life when rightly seen truly inspires us to live as he did. This is why we see him the way we do. In conclusion, it is perfectly biblical to be inspired by the Apostle Paul. He calls us all to imitate him as he imitates Christ, for Paul knows that Christ is the ultimate servant of the greater cause! Questions to consider: How do you serve the greater cause of the gospel? Do you allow your weaknesses and/or your critics to prevent you from this service? What might people say of you at the end of your life? Will they see you serving the greater cause or merely yourself?