Sitting with Paul.

IMG_0932“You know that you sound a little cranky, right?” I said. “I mean, it’s like a Snickers commercial, and you write parts of Galatians and someone hands you a Snickers bar and suddenly you turn into John. Gracious, loving John.”

Paul just stared at me.

“Not like John was all that gentle always,” I added.

Paul just stared.

It was hard. I’ve never felt particularly close to Paul. Not that I disagree with him. I think that a lot of his words have been misconstrued. But he’s the famous one, the big deal apostle. People who are high D on the DISC instrument love him as a patron saint. But those of us who are more relational, more gentle, more diplomatic, identify more with the people around Paul.

But I’m trying to understand Galatians enough to talk about it. And after wrestling and avoiding, I realized that I need to sit with Paul to talk about it.

And it’s not going well.

Finally, he spoke.

“I think you don’t understand how much I love the people I’ve met.” Paul said. “I worry about them.  And this letter was pretty early. It’s not early in my theology, as some people have argued. But it was early in my writing. And I was a little scared about what was happening. So I wrote in an intense way.”

“I’ve already talked with some people about everything up to where you start talking about your biography. So can you tell me why you sound so boastful.”

Paul smiled. “I know it must sound that way. But I was upset about some agitators pretending to know so much about being Jewish. So I had to challenge them. So I pointed out that I was a Jewish scholar, studying in Jerusalem. I was in the holy city, working my way to the top. I was a better Jew, and more devoted to destroying the church than any of them.”

“So you were more qualified to oppose you than any of your opposition? What happened? How did you change?”

He leaned back. “Do you have any of the coffee you served Nehemiah? This could take a bit.”

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About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.

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