The Egotistical Saul of Tarsus, Now Called Paul ? The Arrogant Apostle
Arrogance comes in many forms. Christians are not immune to the pride of life or to the egotistical nature of the beast. Indeed, it is the very character of self-centered witnessing that so often prevents our success at winning the lost to Jesus Christ. We sometimes repel the ungodly, not because we are Christians, but because we are arrogant Christians.
If not careful, we talk down to the unsaved. Out attitude is haughty and reeks of dead worship. Rather than sharing the God of love, we explode with an air of fleshly superiority. One would think that we redeemed ourselves.
Pondering The Arrogances of Paul
The other day, while reading in Colossians, I ponder the following verses:
“1 For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;
2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;” (Colossians 2:1-2).
Notice the words that Paul uses here: “as have not seen my face in the flesh”. This statement seems almost arrogant, and it is not singular in occurrence. Throughout scripture, Paul uses similar words. For example, consider how often Paul admonished men and women to live and behave as was exampled by his personal lifestyle:
“9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you,” (Philippians 4:9).
In the letter to the Colossians, Paul is seeking to encourage the faithful that they might fully understand that they are whole and complete in Jesus Christ. Yet in one place he makes a statement that seems to say that the work of Christ is not finished, and that it is lacking in the power to complete all that should have been. The verse reads as follows:
“24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:” (Colossians 1:24).
It is a strange thing that a man of God should speak words that so nearly touch the perimeters of arrogance.
When I look back at the words with which this article begins, I wonder that a man should teach that Christians can be in lack because they have not seen the face of a fellow Christian. So I ask the Lord, Was Paul egotistical? Did he really believe that his personal presence could better equip a Christian for spiritual warfare? If so, was it a prideful statement, or was it a simple Christian truth?
A Necessity For Fellowship
From childhood to death, we have heroes, people that touch our mind and soul. To see the war scars of another, and to then reflect upon our own war scars encourages our faith. When a pastor shares the pains of his own past, we too find strength in knowing that others have walked where we have walked, and that we have known the same struggles, as have they.
A healthy biological family draws physical and emotional power from one another. So too do healthy Christians draw spiritual might through communion and fellowship with their church family. This is a basic truth, and the apostle Paul understood it completely. This is why he so often urged men and women to assemble themselves together in the name of Christ.
No scripture is written for a wasted purpose. Think on these words that Paul wrote. Set yourself to be near your brethren in Christ. Know that there is strength in numbers. A single snowflake has no power, yet when they assemble by the millions even the greatest machines than man can make must come to a standstill.
Paul was neither self-centered nor arrogant. He knew from where he had come, and to where he would one day arrive. And he knew the pain and struggle of the journey. He also knew the value of sharing in the victories of another.
Paul, the chosen apostle to the gentiles, had a mind that was always settled upon strengthening and encouraging the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we will remember these things and take them to heart, our witness, even when sounding perhaps a bit arrogant, will be founded in love, compassion, and mercy.
Does this mean that the lost world will accept us and embrace us? Certainly not. Jesus has already ascertained that most of the world will reject the words that we teach. Yea, they shall even loathe and despise us to point of death.
Our job is to deliver a good message, and to make certain that any rejection is due to the words rather than the hostility of an arrogant witness.
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