Friday, June 23, 2006

Peter vs Paul

Well this is a battle for the ages! :)

Spent a few days with a good friend. She works at an awesome place that provides shelter for pregnant women, and battered women. Kinda makes you feel proud to be a human when you see these kinds of places. Makes you feel embarassed to be human when you hear some of these girls stories. My friend is a great minister to these gals, and has developed some great ways to help them explore their spirituality using the arts and I am very proud of her.

She told my wife and I about an amazing psychologist that works at the shelter. He is very well known, and in high demand. But he stays at the shelter, has for thirty years. He busses groups to his home for barbeques and picnics. He is on call 24/7. He says he needs to be there for these girls for the long term, that they need to know someone is there for them and will be for the foreseeable future. I really admire that. It is an amazing thing he is doing. And its an amazing thing my friend is doing. They are Peters.

You see Peter stayed in Jerusalem. When the persecution got very intense and the church was forced outwards and underground Peter stayed in Jerusalem. He lead the church. He was the stability, the centre of the whole thing really. He dealt with long term conflicts, prejudices and personality problems. He dealt with financial hardships, jealousies, and sin. Peter stayed in one place, and everyone knew how and where to get ahold of him. And without him the church most likely would have suffered.

But there is another central character in the New Testement story. Paul, was not in one place long. Paul went from city to city, sometimes only staying for a few weeks. He started churches and left. Maybe he visited them again, maybe he sent them letters, but he certainly didn't stay. He was called to start stuff, not manage it. And I imagine lots of people were not too happy with him sometimes.

I am a Paul. I sometimes love being a Paul. Its very exciting, its dangerous, and its always new. The satisfaction I get from telling people about Jesus and figuring out how best to tell my story in new social settings is the most fun I can have. And to tell the truth I sometimes get bored if I am in one setting too long. But it also hurts like hell to be a Paul. I make deep caring relationships with people that are like family to me, and then I leave them. I lead people to Jesus, disciple people, empower them for ministry and then leave them to others to continue. Nobody sees the tears that accompany those things. But what gives me peace, is that I always know, I don't think, but I really know, that I am following my call and gifting, and the Spirits leading. People don't realize how hard it is when they try and entice me to be a Peter. There is much in me that wishes I could, the lure of that life is very strong, and for me I believe sinful.

Now the Peters face similiar issues. They can get bored, they can desire new borders and new adventures. They can get tired of the same old shite day in and day out. They can get soooo tired of certain individuals that keeps coming back to the same stupid place they were before. And these Peters will desire if only for a little while to join the Pauls. But they get other benefits, long term relationships, some kind of security and often they get to see the fruits of their labour and receive praise for all they have done.

The fact is however, that we need Peters and Pauls. Without Paul the gospel would have been restricted to a single social setting. Without Peter the church would have had no foundation. Now I, being a Paul, could point out that Jesus left the disciples, and so Jesus is more like Paul, but that doesn't fly because Jesus also said He'd never leave us or forsake us. And that is what I count on, that no matter if you are a Peter or a Paul, Jesus is always present, not just for you, but for those you minister with.

Looking back on my life I see that often times those I have ministered with, and cried over leaving, have become much truer and empowered disciples by my leaving. And I could say that those the doctor has ministered to have become truer and more empowered, because he stayed. That is the way this thing works. The gifts are beautiful because they are both needed and designed by God.

But I experience the scripture in a very profound and deep way, that tells of Paul, calling the elders of the church at Ephesus to come to him by the shore. And in tears he tells them he will not see them again. And that he did not want to come to their city, or else it would be too hard to leave. Seeing my friends and family here, I can relate so much. I miss them terribly. And my heart will break to leave again. But...

my friends in Australia want us back. And someday, not too soon I hope, I will have to say goodbye to them as well. In the end I must follow my Lord in whatever way he has called me. And it only does me bad to wish for a different calling. Rather I wish for myself and for my friends, that we would live in the presence, and power of Jesus. For the kingdom of God, is for those that really understand what it means to obey the king.

the rev

14 comments:

hamo said...

good post rev!

right with you there mate

Rebecca said...

I like this post Rev, great thinking.

But what about this: Peter and Paul lived in a society where there was actually a fair bit of stability and a stronger sense of community, reciprocity etc. Sure, people moved about, especially traders - but they didn't generally have the access to transportation we do, nor did they live in an individualised, atomised society where people related to each other via phone and internet more than they did face to face.

So my question is: what does this mean for people like Paul today?

(And I ask this as someone who's got at least a little bit of 'Paul' in her)

Anonymous said...

Was inspired and loved the post.

I appreciate the amazingly insightful way you view the world and are then able to articulate your thoughts.

The only question I have ( pardon my lesser ability to articulate my thoughts) is Where do these characters sit in this world of the instant results and the hear and know and speak into the context of a world that says " if it isn't working get out" this disposable world that seems to value the new and exciting but easily gets bored.

Rebecca said...

*sob*

where's the rev?!?!?!

David said...

Paul sounds like the Australian wombat: eats, roots and leaves.

Jon Owen said...

Isn't that: eats roots and leaves?

Rev was hoping, kinda like the woman you left your last one for that we (Australia) would be the last!

Keith Lowell Jensen said...

I got to see the Reverend a couple of times this week. He's working on artwork even as he bounces around. I barely manage to do that and my medium just involves finding a computer to sit at. There he is at our mom's with eight wood boxes and a bunch of paint.

What a great family. His girls are awesome as ever as they become full fledged humans (he raised them up from monkeys) and the friend they brought with them from Oz is one of the nicest foreigners I ever had the pleasure to pick on. Of course my sister in law Raquel, well she's as hot as ever. Probably too hot for John, but he does okay.
Is it wrong to acknowledge that your brother's wife is hot? If so, I don't wanna be right.

Rebecca said...

*note to self*

do not read KLJ's posts while at work...everyone will think you're crazy...

The Rev said...

Well rebecca, I don't see that it makes all that much diference. I keep in touch with others from afar, but it is those I truly live in community with that I have those profound life changing moments with. As a Paul in this society, it requires the same of me, I must get up and go.

Anonymous, the instant results world that I live in does causes me to doubt frequently, but I try to stand by my principles. It would be too easy to call my first church plant a failure. The church no longer exists. But infact it does exist. They do not meet together regularly, nor do they live in community together anymore. But the faith they grew into is still alive, and being shared and spread all over the world. So it would seem it is a success afterall, just not a measurable one.

Seeing some of those young people on this trip, and them sharing with us how they had been impacted by our little community was one of the most encouraging things I have ever experienced. I hope I now look more for the long term fruit, rather than the quick pay off.

As to my painting, it has been nice to paint on vacation. I was inspired by my mentor Fr Bill Moore to be more disciplined in my painting, I feel like it is part of my ministry, and part of a healthy holistic life for me.

I will post some pictures perhaps later.

the rev

Rebecca said...

I think anonymous and I were asking the same thing. You said it (I assume you mean the modern world?) doesn't make much difference, but then say that "it is those I truly live in community with that I have those profound life changing moments with".

This is what I mean - for those of us who are kinda like Paul, how do we balance that with the fact that we live in world that is much more fluid, and tends to have lots of Pauls and fewer Peters, and maybe needs the Peters more?

I'm thinking aloud here, and I'm someone who gets itchy feet, so I'm asking as someone who struggles with this...

The Rev said...

well I don't know how to answer your question other than the way I did, I can no more be a Peter than I can be an introvert. I actually think most people today really long for a more stable life, otherwise I would not get so much grief for leaving when I do.

the rev

Rebecca said...

Here's another way of putting it: given we live in a really mobile society, where many people crave a sense of community and commitment but struggle to find it, how do balance that with the sense that you are being called on? What are the questions you ask? How do you make a decision? How do you know you're not just moving because deep down you need the sense of newness, excitement etc? (As above, these are the issues I struggle with myself)

return to righteousness said...

I used to feel amazed by Paul too...until I read one of his verses that taught opposite Christ.

Now,I seriously believe Paul was a false apostle as:

1. He wasn’t ordained an apostle by Christ (Mat 10)

2. He didn’t qualify to be an apostle (Acts 1:16-26)

3. Paul’s doctrine is proven false:

After Christ died and rose he appeared to his apostles. The gospels record him as appearing to the “eleven” (remember, Judas had died), but Paul’s doctrine is in clear error as he tells us that Christ appeared to the “twelve”:

Paul said twelve:

1 Corinthians 15:4-6

4And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve

Mark said eleven:

Mark 16:14: Afterward he (Christ) appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat

Matthew said eleven:

Matt 28:16-18:

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

Luke’s mentions the “eleven”:

2And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. 3And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. 4And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: 5And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? 6He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, 7Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. 8And they remembered his words, 9And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.

Acts mentions eleven:

Acts 1:26:

26And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Paul is a liar, and a proven false witness. Christ, in Revelation 2:2 commends the church of Epheus for figuring out false aposles. He said, “…thou hast tried them which say they are apsostles, and are not, and hast found them liars. Remember, Paul preached at Epheus.

Fact 4:
The apostles did not believe Paul was a disciple:

Acts 9:26
26And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.

After Barnabas told the apostles that Paul had “seen the Lord” and that he preached boldy in the name of Jesus, the Apostles didn’t tell him to join them, but they sent him home to Tarsus. Remember, Jesus told us (Mat 13:57) that a prophet is not without honour except in his own country and in his own house . The apostles sent Paul to a place that no one would believe him.

I have much, much more on my website going into faith works and law too. If you want to see more, just go to my site: www.returntorighteousness.blogspot.com

The Rev said...

Wow,

haven't heard that before. I think you are completely wrong, I wouldn't mind having a discussion with you about it all however.

Bec,

The thing that makes this hard is that knowing that people crave stability, doesn't make it for certain that we are to provide them with that, infact we cannot. Only God can do that, and usually God does not beyond extending Her unfailing love.

I try to connect and give of myself as much as I am able, to truly be with people. This makes leaving all the more difficult. It actually does hurt me as well. Deeply.

But I look and see that this is my call, the relationships I make do not end, they just change. And those that have received our ministry in the past, thought they wish we were still with them, they also in some way are glad we are offering it to others now.

It is hard in this culture where so many people struggle with abandonment. And I do feel guilt at times, but there is a sense of calling, and there is a scriptural understanding, and there is a church tradition, that supports what I have said.

In this world I am to be myself, redeemed by Christ, and not try to be another.

the rev