Posts Tagged ‘Paul’

Leadership: Vision and Problem-solving

January 30, 2015

The Apostle Paul was a doer. A leader. A problem-solver.

Did you ever think that it was interesting, or even meaningful, that Paul only wrote letters?

He didn’t write a philosophical treatise. He didn’t write a scholarly book of theology (not that that subject existed in his time). He also didn’t write (to the dismay of many of my legalistic friends) a book of laws and rules.

Paul founded little communities of Christ-followers. Many of them. His letters reflect the problems presented to him by these various communities as they sought to live out this new life in the spirit.

Leaders must have a vision. We can see glimpses of Paul’s vision in his letters. Often, I think, he assumed knowledge on the part of the listener–knowledge we don’t have 2,000 years later. But his vision is clear.

How God revealed his “glory” through Jesus. How Jesus was killed and then resurrected. How the spirit came to dwell in believers. How we should live in community.

As his followers struggled to live in a multi-cultural and often hostile world, Paul wrote to them to give guidance and reproof as necessary. Sometimes we see the questions they asked. Sometimes it’s implied.

There were many other leaders in the movement at the time. Paul stands out, his writings are timeless.

Paul shows us the example of great leadership–a vision planted deep inside articulated clearly and often; action bringing the vision into reality; follow-up, care, and nurturing of followers; development of the next generation of leaders. And, like all great leaders, often misunderstood by outsiders.

One God One People

November 24, 2014

“There is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”

I almost always have something on my person with which to take notes. I currently carry a Moleskin notebook that fits nicely in the back pocket of my jeans. Sometimes it is a 3×5 index card wallet (I write my to-do list on those for the day). If nothing else, I can use the Notes app on my iPhone.

Late last week, I had a great idea for a blog post. I didn’t write it down. It’s gone. All I have is the memory of having an idea.

The weakest ink is better than the strongest memory” — Chinese proverb


The best I remember of what I was thinking came from my reading of N.T. Wright’s study of Paul, “Paul and the Faithfulness of God.”

He pointed out in a discussion (of several hundred pages) of Paul’s “rewriting” of his Scriptures leading to developing a new Shema (quoted above from 1 Corinthians 8:6). In the Greek, God is YHWH (we pronounce Yahweh or the Latin Jehovah, Jews would not pronounce) and Lord is the Greek kyrios–a word in the original Greek translation of the Scriptures that also refers to God. An interesting thing to ponder.

While reading Wright’s key passage, 1 Cor 8-10, my eye fell on a verse in chapter 11 about women. The verse, taken by itself (which you should almost never do), contained a seeming put-down of women. But this morning I returned to the passage and read the entire argument of 1 Cor 11-12.

That passage talks about the mutual submission of men and women. Something to meditate on when considering our relationships. But that’s another topic. It continues to discuss divisions in the church (ekklesia) in Corinth.

Read 8-12 as one long argument, and you get Paul’s main point. We have one God (the Creator in the Old Testament and the Father in the New), and one Lord (Jesus in the New Testament, the person who was God revealed to the people), and one ekklesia (gathering of people).

When we gather as a people of God, contention is not a Spiritual gift. It is not to be allowed. Social differences are to be put aside. Political differences are to be put aside. Personality issues are to be put aside. We worship the one God through the One who revealed God to the people as one people.

Imagine the letters Paul would write today to all of our churches about this core teaching of his. He’d need an army of admins to compile the email database to send us all the reprimands that we need and the instruction we need.

One God, One Lord, One People. Remembering that daily is perhaps the fundamental Spiritual Discipline we need today.

Twisting Scripture To Fit Our Ideas

August 29, 2014

It is not a new idea–picking out phrases from Spiritual writing and twisting them to suit an individual’s point of view.

I remember reading John Calhoun and other early 19th century writers using Scripture to justify slavery and treating black people as not human. Just so, there are people still today who do the same thing regarding women. That would be Christians–not just Muslims.

But way back in the beginning of our faith, Peter writing to the churches says

So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.

Peter calls these people “ignorant” and “unstable.” He has been criticizing those who perverted the teachings by preaching a gospel of sexual license and straying from holiness and the teaching of Jesus.

Peter says that we should wait out the coming of the new heaven and new earth while striving to be found by God to be at peace, without spot or blemish.

Like I said yesterday, my rather superficial reading of Paul in my youth led me to conclusions that were wrong. I am blessed with a personality that enables me to change when I discover new facts. I’ve learned much more about Paul and discovered he has much to teach us.

Just quit picking up odd phrases and building a theology and political philosophy around them. Paul says we are all equal before God–equally sinners and equally provided grace if we should so choose.