Whenever I think of the apostle Paul, I think of a small, quirky man, spouting off what probably seemed like backward theology to first century Rome. Extra-biblical literature (i.e., The Acts of Paul and Thecla) from that time period describes Paul as unattractive, yet “full of grace.” Despite his likely idiosyncrasies, I find Paul to be quite radical.
The Corinthians gossiped among themselves about Paul, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible”(2 Cor. 10;10, NRSV). And Paul admits this earlier in his letter, “My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God” (1 Cor. 3:4-5, NRSV, emphasis mine).
Paul did not rely on his own power- though it seems important to the Corinthians that this man who was preaching to them had himself together. How much of our faith and our lifestyle is dependent on human wisdom? Lent is a time to resist the conventional, what we are accustomed to, our human “wisdom” about what it is that we think we need; it is a time to focus, through prayer, on the power and sovereignty of God.
To experience the power of God, we must relinquish our thirst and need for control—at first possibly a frightening feeling—and open ourselves to the work that God is doing, despite our vain efforts. Admittedly, I love the feeling of being in control- or, perhaps my perception of it. It makes me feel accomplished, efficient, and together. But, I am so fallen and finite. I have found that when I open myself up to something greater than myself, I am more aware of God’s ever-present power in my life and in the world around me.
Sara Ralph has been a camper at Camp Meeting, volunteered at camp events and is married to the editor of this blog (Matt Ralph). Image credit: Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.