Paul knew what it was like to live in the fish bowl. When you live in the fish bowl, you exist for others to observe. If they want to make it their lifes objective, they can spend a lot of hours discovering your flaws and calling your flaws to others attention. There were those who seemingly defined their lifes mission to be discovering Pauls flaws and announcing those flaws to anyone who would listen.
Paul had a huge problem. Prior to conversion, he was the poster child of first century Jews who hated what we call Christianity. (They often called it "the Way.") He said in Acts 26:9, So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth, and in verse 11, And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities. He so violently opposed Christianity prior to his conversion that Jerusalem Christians feared him even after his conversion (see Acts 9:26).
Paul, the Jews Jew, understood the Christ (the Messiah) came to save gentiles as well as Jews (see Genesis 12:3; note all families of the earth; and Galatians 3:16). Pauls understanding was NOT popular among most first century JewsChristian and non-Christian! The result: the violent man became the target. One of the first centurys great ironies: the Jews Jew became the Christian apostle to gentiles! Even the Christian Peter, after his Acts 10 experience, lacked the courage to admit Gods interest expressed in Pauls mission to the gentiles (see Galatians 2:11-14).
Paul had a dream! He wanted to eliminate the gap between Jewish Christians and gentile Christians. To him, the best way to bring healing was for gentile Christians to send a gift to Jewish Christians to aid with physical necessities. Though Paul promoted the gift, collected the gift, and delivered the gift, he could not heal the breach!
Pauls passion to heal an unnecessary problem significantly contributed to the events that resulted in his death. He wanted to end a problem that God ended in Jesus Christs death and resurrection (read Galatians 2:11-21). He wanted to fix a condition that God fixed in Jesus Christ, and he could not! His great efforts to do things honorably in everyones sight failed. People continued to be people! Jewish Christians held so tightly to their views that they could not see through Gods eyes! They were so sure they saw correctly that they did not comprehend their blindness!
To me, there are several lessons to note. (1) Conflict always will exist among Christians. (2) Some conflicts cannot be fixed. (3) The challenge is not always the fixing, but being Christians when things need fixing. We can act like Gods people even when other Christians do not.
Link to other Writings of David Chadwell