Wounded, Weary and Warring

November 6, 2012


When I was a new Christian I wanted to be like Peter and Paul. I wish I had been more specific because I have found that I have a lot of their weaknesses, but I was hoping for their strengths. Everyone has a hero in the Word that they wish they could be like and most of us while we want to be like Jesus usually have another person we are especially fond of since being truly Christlike seems less attainable than being like one of the hired hands. Indeed, while Christ was every bit human the being every bit God as well overwhelms us whereas all the rest of the folks in the Word were just folks that God empowered.

More often than not, we look at all their exploits and put aside their foibles and failings. We also look at the end result of God working in their lives without truly seeing the process or path God took them through. In some ways that may be good in that in our early years after conversion as it might scare the fire out of us or discourage us from seeking to grow if we saw the full picture clearly. The downside is that as God put us through processes and takes us down paths we may still get scared or faint because we do not understand what is happening to us especially if we think that everything for the Christian is supposed to be a primrose path of prosperity and giddy happiness.

I had no idea what I was asking for when I asked to be like Peter and Paul. I was looking at the Day of Pentecost and Mars Hill and missing a lot between and after the mountain top experiences. Peter is definitely a soul brother and I relate to him very well especially the weak side of him. Right after Jesus, Peter is the one I want to meet and hug.

I would love to have the apologetic and polemic skills of Paul. I am not really good at apologetic debate. For me, that is equal to Timothy doing the work of the evangelist. Not my strong suit at all. I am more gifted in the polemic side dealing with doctrine and things inside the faith, but I am no match for Paul. I write expansively like him, but I am not on the best seller lists anywhere like Paul’s writings albeit he was just the person the Holy Spirit used to write those books. Odd is it not, that we call a person who does the writing for someone else a ghost writer. In the case of Scripture, it is actually the man that is the ghost writer for it is he that the Holy Ghost is inspiring. English is a wild language at times. No wonder it can be hard to learn and understand.

When we look at Paul at the end of his life and ministry we see a man of great spiritual success though from a human perspective, not well off. Much of his best writing came written from a jail chained to four guards in abject squalor and filth. When he was free to roam and speak neither his stature or style was truly that of a popular speaker especially by our standards. He would have a hard time getting an audience today because he could not ever be on the cover of GQ nor was his speech erudite and polished. Yet with all that going against him he had a great following then and now though he still has some detractors here who are not found of some of his doctrines as they do not fit the culture nor the religious fads of our day. Still, though some love him and some hate him he is still the one of the best read authors and theologians of all time subordinate only to Jesus and John the Baptist in his lifetime. It might even be debatable as to if he was greater than Moses since Paul’s influence is greater though both are read in the Church.

He was an awesome man among men even though for much of his ministry he was a wounded man. He was wounded by friend and foe alike. The Jews and pagans hated him. There were preachers preaching who were only doing it to hurt him. My suspicion is that Paul would not ordain them because their hearts were not right so they took advantage of him being in jail and the poor communication of the day to get someone to ordain them or became self-ordained and preached knowing it would get back to him at some point. However they went about it we know it was of strife and envy. It does appear that they at least preached a sound gospel so Paul comforted himself with that fact even though he knew their motives were not pure.

Alexander the Coppersmith did him much harm. Hymanaeus and Philetus preached false doctrine that overthrew the faith of some which hurt Paul deeply. Friends deserted him like Demas, Phygellus and Hermogenes. At one point all had forsaken him and he was alone. The very people he had won to Christ in Corinth questioned his apostleship when the pretty boys with PhDs and pedigrees came up from Jerusalem.

This would be enough to defeat forty dedicated men, but then Paul had the strength that he drew from His conversion. Many men have doubted their call to preach, but not Paul. The road to Damascus experience could not be denied and yet in that call it was told that Paul would learn how much he would have to suffer to serve Christ.

God also provided him with the comfort of faithful men like Luke, Epaphras, Onesiphorus, Philemon, and many others he mentioned in the epistles. Then of course, he had his son in the faith, Timothy. Though he was wounded in the battle for Christ, God provided him the balm of the Spirit’s presence and the sweet smelling odor of men faithful first to God and then to Paul.

You can imagine with all that betrayal and such that it had to be wearying to his soul. Yet, how much more was he made weary by the things his body endured as well. He said that he bore the marks of Christ in that he had his scars because of his service to Christ, but he also bore whips as Christ had.

One has only to read Paul’s resume in 2 Corinthians 11 to see how weary he had to be in body. How many of us would endure half of what he did physically and still stay in ministry? Very few, indeed. There have been many of our brethren who have gone through great trials and torture for Christ with shouts of joy and gone off to their deaths singing while American Christians quit church and quit serving for the paltriest of things.

I have read where Christians living under Communism, who may not even have a whole book of Scripture let alone a bible, go to the grave of a martyr and ask God to pass the mantle to them as their ordination. Yet, we have the Word in numerous forms from printed to digital on our computers and phones but we barely make it to church and if the weather or something else is not the best we will sit at the house. Don’t ask us about sacrifice. We only want blessings. We wonder why we do not have the power and see the things Paul did. I wonder why when those who suffer persecution has so much less than what we have and yet they see God move in ways we shall never see until we see the trouble that for the most part only they and Jesus see.

Can we add the thorn in the flesh to this weariness? Paul asked three times for its removal. It had to be a real burden no matter what your opinion as to the real nature of it. It was wearisome and yet God said that His grace was sufficient. Remember that Paul had been quite prominent in the Jew’s religion and he had a lot that he had been proud about though he now considered it dung. With all that Paul had seen, though I do not believe he was the one who had been to Heaven, and all that God had done through him it would be quite easy to get a case of the big head so God gave him this wearisome burden and then gave grace to bear it. I am afraid that there are far too many of us that need such a thing in our lives as we have not come anywhere close to the experiences of Paul and yet we tend to get the big head forgetting where we came from and start to Lord it over the flocks of God when our job is to feed them, not fleece and flail them.

Read 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 and see the weariness of Paul and his comrades. I don’t see being “pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life” as part of a prosperity, health and wealth gospel, which is another gospel, not the one first delivered to the saints that we are called to contend for and defend even with our lives.

What was the purpose of that time? “But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead.” 1 Cor 1:9 The wounds and weariness brought him into the relationship and understanding of the God who delivers and is our strength who has delivered. is delivering. and will deliver us. With all that, where do we find Paul at the end of his life?

He is still warring. Paul knew who his real enemies were and while he had to call names of heretics and such he still knew that the weapons of our warfare were spiritual and not carnal. His real enemies were not the flesh and blood men who wounded and wearied him. The real battle was against the devil and his demons. Indeed, he laid out our armor in Ephesians 6. We really do not have any excuses for our spiritual losses and our sins. We have the victory in Christ, but our faith is small. Fortunately, since it only takes mustard seed faith move mountains it requires even less to be saved or we would all be doomed.

Though he fought with lions, wolves in sheep’s clothing and vicious dogs spiritually speaking and was now in prison soon to be executed he could still tell Timothy to fight the good fight of faith. By continuing to pray, reading the parchments, preaching the truth and exhorting the saints he was in the fight right to the end. He was wounded and weary, but he was till warring.

He did not say I have fought the good fight as one who fought for a noble cause and lost. He said it as a man coming home after being in the trenches for four years at the end of WWII. He had fought the good fight and he was going home a victor to wear the crowns of life, martyrdom and whatever other crowns Christ gives out for faithful service. He was not dragged to the executioner’s block battered and beaten down. I believed he walked with a swagger or as one overjoyed to be going to meet an dear friend or loved one for so he was as he would soon be with the One that He first met on a road with a mission to destroy the faith he has now preached. He was reading the Word of God right up to the time that he stood before the living Word of God who was, is and always will be the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! The soldier has finished his battles and the runner has finished the course with joy! Glory!!!!!

Do a more in depth study of your bible hero and see if you really want to be like them. Remember, God does not always give the details so consider what you might not see that could have been their path and process to what victory you see they had in their life and ministry. It might just scare you into considering someone else as a hero, hopefully not Demas.

You might ask if I still want to be like Paul? I freely admit that I do not like pain and I cannot imagine going through half of what he did and still survive. It would be a miracle! I want to be liked and loved. I have had my share of bad friends and foes and really don’t want to go through much of that again. It does hurt and wound. Yet, I would love to do the great things that he did and to be able to get to my last moments and be able to say, out of a heart of phileto love that Peter had, O God! I have been sorely wounded! O God! I am weary beyond my comprehension and yet, O God, you have found me warring and I will do so to the last breath!

It scares the fire out of me to even write that for I wonder if I have any more clue of what I am saying than in my youth when I declared my desire to be like Peter and Paul while making a vow that I had no sense in making for the devil must have taken it as a gauntlet thrown in his face for the war was definitely on. All I can say is that if God does call me into that life of ministry I will definitely need His grace to endure it and anything good that comes out of it will be His working through me by the power of the Spirit. It will surely be “not by power, not by might… but my Spirit.” Maranatha!!!!

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