In reading today's passage, I am struck not by Paul's actual words, but by the situation in which he found himself as he traveled from place to place, starting new churches and building the first congregations.
I wonder how I would have reacted to Paul. In my mind, he would have walked into my village and started telling me how to live my life. Hummm. I don't think I would have liked him much. In fact, I could hear myself thinking, "That Paul. What a know-it-all. What makes him so high and mighty?" What proof did he have of his relationship with Jesus?
Of course, 2,000 years later, we have our proof of who Paul was and how Jesus indeed used him to further the Kingdom. And that makes me wonder - who in my world could I have dissed that was sent here to help me further the Kingdom in my own life? Or, who did God send to me to witness to but I just didn't see it. As enlightened as I think I may be, I have not been looking for those opportunities that God sends my way. When I meet new people or I'm placed into new situations my first thought is not always "Okay, now why has God placed me here?" Instead, I'm ashamed to say that I typically think about how such a situation or person would be of benefit to me.
I wonder how many Pauls have been sent my way that I have not allowed into my life. I tend to be shy anyway and I think that shyness is often misunderstood as being aloof. I've done nothing to change that perception as it is a handy screen. I am not good about letting people through my screening process. In fact, one of my New Year's resolutions is to work on that this year, to try and let more people get close so that I can affect their lives and, maybe even more importantly, so that they can affect mine.
So, maybe by the end of 2009 I'll be echoing Paul's words - "And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head" - because I've lowered my guard and allowed myself to see opportunities to reach out and to further God's Kingdom as He would have me do. Like Paul did.