The Apostle Paul would have probably had a good, good life if he just engaged in what I call “god talk.”
If Paul just talked about God (not Jesus), he never would have been:
- Whipped with FORTY lashes on FIVE different occasions
- Beaten with rods on THREE different occasions
- Had men throw large rocks at him until they thought he was dead
- Been shipwrecked THREE different times
- Been adrift in the open sea for a night and day
- In danger from rivers and robbers
- In danger from his own people, at times taking oaths not to eat until they could murder Paul
- At times starving, at times freezing sleeping in the countryside
- And ultimately, tradition tells us, had his head cut off by Rome.
IF Paul just talked about God, his life would have been the comfortable life of middle class, well educated Jew.
But all of the above happened because Paul just could not shut up about Jesus. Paul should have known better! Jesus said “ALL men will HATE you because Me.” Matt. 10:22 Not ambivalent towards you, not luke warm about you, but they would HATE you. Not the best recruiting sales pitch ever. “Become loathsome – join the team Jesus!”
Forewarned, everywhere Paul went, no matter what the cost, no matter how much it hurt, no matter what the danger, no matter how unpopular, no matter how loathed, no matter what….Paul talked about Jesus.
He could have talked about God all day long and everyone would have been happy. The Jews would be happy because they worshipped God. The Greeks and Romans would have been happy because they worshipped lots of gods.
But Paul was one of those intolerant and narrow minded types that had to preach Jesus.
It’s the same today. If you talk about a generic “God”, you will be OK. The Hindu will be alright because they have 600 gods, the Muslim will be alright because they worship a god. The Jew will be alright because they worship a god. Even Oprah will be OK because she says “there are many paths to what you call God”. If you stick with “God talk” everyone will be OK because “god” comes in all sizes and shapes and can molded into whatever shape the listener wants.
But if you want to cause a stir, mention Jesus. Because that narrows it down quite a bit. That’s the 2nd person of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), the Christian God. That’s the One who died and rose and again. The Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end (Rev. 1:8). And that’s the intolerant One who declared of Himself, “no one comes to the Father, except through Me,” John 14:6.
But even more, He’s the welcoming One, who says:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matt. 11:28-29.
Paul couldn’t be quiet about this great Jesus. Why? “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Romans 1:16.
As sinful human beings prone to wander, we must always be ready to apologize quickly when needed. But there is at least one thing we should be completely unapologetic about in this life, and that is the name of Jesus. Enough of the generic “god talk”. Let’s lift up the name of Jesus.