My boss thinks that I don’t like St Paul. He was laughing with me at my body language when someone was quoting from Paul some while back. Actually, it wasn’t the content of what Paul was saying but the exclusive language that was used in the version of the bible the speaker had put on powerpoint that had irritated me. The patriarchal language annoyed me so much that I didn’t hear Paul’s word speaking to me. Language does matter. It can so easily offend and exclude.
I do think it is important that in church, we hear God’s word to us in a language that we can readily understand too. (Fortunately we are having fewer battles with folks here who think that the only proper version of the Bible is the King James. ‘Well, it’s the words Jesus used’ –deep sigh!)
So, OK Boss! I’ll admit it sometimes Paul does talk sense. It’s not all bad.
This bit from Galatians speaks to me as I struggle to find where I should be and what I should be doing.
3:1 You crazy Galatians! Did someone put a hex on you? Have you taken leave of your senses? Something crazy has happened, for it’s obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives. His sacrifice on the cross was certainly set before you clearly enough.
2-4Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up! (this version is from the Message)
30 years ago when I was a college the buzz word was ‘sound’. Is he sound? Does he have the right beliefs? It was used to exclude people and to keep your little Christian group ‘safe’. I thought we had left all that language behind. I am worried that we (and that includes me) as a church are getting so tied up in doctrine and right belief and rules of how we are doing things in church that we are losing sight of our first love.
The new life in me, the first love, certainly didn’t begin by me working my socks off to please God and be acceptable to him. It was my response to Him. He started it and I said YES!
How could I possibly think that it was all down to me? So each time I feel myself rushing around thinking that I can do it all in my own strength and finish the work that God began in me, I’ll remember that Paul said ‘Crazy thinking’