SpongeBob and the Apostle Paul

I’ve never been too fond of the Apostle Paul. As a Christian I can’t publically say a lot of negative things about his writing, but something about the way he comes across irks me. Apparently he’s the only Christian that has ever really got his theology straight; the rest of us have been trying to decipher his ramblings for centuries now.

Paul probably has his own action figure. I should run down to the nearest overpriced Christian bookstore to check it out. His doll is almost certainly proudly displayed next to the Moses and Jesus figurines. If I had an action figure it would be two shelves lower, marked down half price, right between Larry-boy and SpongeBob SquarePants. (Who let him in here?!)

I’ve always thought that the Christian life is like a circus, but even in that context I think Paul would have me beat. He’d no doubt be the fearless lion tamer. “No problem,” he’d quip, “I used to see this all the time in the coliseum.” And crack goes the Indiana Jones style whip. Yours truly would likely be stuck down in the clown car, wedged sideways somewhere between Doubting Thomas’s armpit and Loudmouth Peter’s backside. (Dude, lay off the kosher dill pickles!)

Actually, Paul would disagree with my circus metaphor and start going on about running this race or that marathon. You know it’s true! And why is it that every time I read about Paul running a race, I hear Chariots of Fire playing in the background? ANNOYING!

Yup, Paul seemed to have it all together, which means that he and I have very little in common.

How about you? Have you reached the heavenly plateaus of sainthood? Good for you. The air is obviously quite thin up there, because it’s messing with your opinion of yourself.

For the rest of us, I want to suggest that if nothing else, we have something in common with another apostle: the disciple from the Gospel of John. He keeps showing up near Jesus. Jesus seemed to actually want to spend time with him. He is described as the disciple Jesus loved.

Is it enough for you,  to be the disciple Jesus loves? I hope so, because it’s true.

Just for today, let’s take a break from the need to be better Christians. Let’s just be loved, beloved.

6 thoughts on “SpongeBob and the Apostle Paul”

  1. Michael Lorusso from Facebook says:

    ‎”But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as r…ubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
    Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
    Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”
    (Philippians 3:7-21 ESV)

    I’m not seeing the connection between your criticism and his actual words. I don’t think Paul was a perfect man and I don’t take him to be arrogant. Paul writes under inspiration of the Spirit and his words are confirmed as Scripture. I don’t think it’s safe to create false dichotomies between John and Paul. Both these men had different personalities to be sure but shared a deep unity in the community of faith and represented the same Christ and message in their own ways.

    “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”(1 Corinthians 1:10-17 ESV)

    Ironically these are also the word of Paul if that counts for anything.

    Your reading of Paul seems to be quite different than mine. you appear to have a lot in common with his contemporary accusers (cf. 2 Cor. 10:1, 7-18). I’m puzzled though at how you might have missed this.

    1. Wow. It sounds like I offended you. Sorry about that. A prerequisite of this blog is the understanding that you shouldn’t take me too seriously, until the last sentance or so.

      My apologies to you, and Paul.

  2. Bill, I totally get what you’re saying . . . I don’t always get Paul either. Maybe it’s because of his ecclesiastical training or his writing style but I often shake my head and go ”Uh, what are you talking about Paul?”

    1 Cor. 9
    24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

    Gack! Strike a blow to my body? Make it my slave? Uhhh . . . that sounds awkward . . .

    1 Cor. 10
    32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

    Please everyone in every way? Hehehehe . . .not likely . . .

    1 Cor. 11
    1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

    Wow . . . Paul seems to say he is an appropriate role model for me to follow, just like Jesus.

    These are just a few passages from Paul’s first letter
    Let’s be clear though . . . any difficulties I have with these or any other passage of Paul’s writings are a reflection on me, not on the correctness or Holy authority Paul wrote them under.
    But to be honest, I also find John easier to relate to – he’s all about the love. I’m a big fan of David’s Psalms; he was a murderous horn –dogger and was still someone after God’s heart. Sorry, but I can relate waaaaay more to him and his pleas for God’s mercy and grace.

    And oh yeah . . . I tend to write tongue firmly planted in right check – this blog is to get people thinking, hopefully talking and maybe acting in a way that had never occurred to them. You’ll never find one of us claiming to know better than anyone else or being more right than so and so . . . we just want to toss a few thoughts out and always appreciate any and all comments!

  3. Um, I think I see what the problem is here Bill. I know you. Well. And I can understand how Mike sees what he sees in your writing.
    I KNOW you honour and respect the Apostle Paul. But somehow you weren’t able to convey that in your writing style. The sarcasm didn’t quite work this time ’round. It actually does sound like you don’t like Paul, and I know that isn’t how you intended your writing to come across…you wanted us to hear that even if we find it near impossible to have Paul’s seemingly positive outlook while thrashing in prison, Jesus loves us. Am I right?
    So good to know a great author/writer like you isn’t perfect, hee hee :) That’s the problem with blogs…they’re a journal entry. They don’t go through the rigorous screening and editing a book would. But you have a great heart. Keep it up!!

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