GodsBigBlog: Is this the good life I’m leading? Or is it all rubbish?


By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Saul, before he became Paul, was everything that I (and most of the people I know) would like to be: Confident, successful, respected, faithful, ethical, passionate. A high achiever. Saul could check all the boxes of a life – first century or twenty-first – well lived.

As he points out — not particularly modestly — in his letter to the Phillipians, before he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus Paul (then known as Saul) had been a proud “member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee . . . as to righteousness under the law, blameless.”

He had every reason to be confident in his worldy attainments.

I envy Saul. But do I envy Paul, the man Saul became when Jesus disrupted his contented life and “made him his own” on the road to Damascus? Do I want to be Paul and give my life, figuratively and literally, to God?

I’m not so sure.

I know how to be Saul. But I haven’t a clue how to be Paul. How do I step back from everything I’ve worked for all my life – my family, my career, my life savings – and count it as “nothing”?

Maybe I’m a little like the Israelites of Exodus when they said to Moses, “Do not let God speak to us, or we will die”?

c 2011 BF Newhall

Lectionary for Sunday, October 2:

Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20
Psalm 19

Isaiah 5:1-7
Psalm 80: 7-14

Philippians 3:4b-14
Matthew 21:33-46

“When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they were afraid and trembled and stood at a distance, and said to Moses, ‘You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.’” – Exodus 20:18-19

“If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

“Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”  – Phillipians 3:4b-8a

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© 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 Barbara Falconer Newhall. and www.GodsBigBlog.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog's author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided that full and clear credit is given to Barbara Falconer Newhall and www.GodBigBlog.com with appropriate and specifc direction to the original content. Bible texts are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the USA. The Psalms are from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979. Material originally published and copyrighted by the Oakland Tribune is posted here by permission. WordPress theme adapted from Thematic Theme Framework