Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Chief of sinners?

Reading a little in Schuon's book Prayer Fashions Man, I came across some paragraphs about humility. The fun part was how to him, people who want to call themselves the greatest of sinners weren't different from others who wanted to call themselves the greatest. They all wanted to be special.

This made me think, since we know that good old Paul the apostle did call himself the greatest of all sinners. Like, the worst of them. But there's two things about that. One, he had a pretty good claim to it. Remember he was a smart, well-schooled contemporary of Jesus. He could have just asked those who knew Jesus what this was all about and thought about it in light of the Scriptures, which he knew from his childhood. But instead he was like EX-TER-MI-NATE all the Christians until the Lord stepped in and stopped him. So, one could excuse him for being a bit down about it all.

And there's the other thing, that he did not need to claim supervillain status to be special. The folks he was writing to had largely been converted by him. They had seen him do all kinds of apostle stuff and signs and wonders. Naturally some of the newbie Christians had become Paul fanboys. They were like "Yeah, sure James is the Brother of the Lord, and Peter is the Rock of the Church, and John is the Disciple that Jesus loved, but Paul is really the main man! I'm totally like Paul for boss apostle!" So pointing out that he hadn't exactly been like that all the time was kind of averaging himself out.

And of course, he was trying to give people hope. If he had been that bad, and God's grace had not been in vain for him, there was hope even for the people you secretly hoped would just trip and break their neck before they could do any more harm.  So there was that as well.

So basically what I take away is, don't try this at home kids. If God knows us, that's as special as we ever need to be.

1 comment:

mushroom said...

That's good advice.

I have always thought of it in terms, as you say, of giving hope, as a way of saying there is no such thing as a hopeless sinner.

Too, it is similar to saying, "Sin is sin." Or, Jesus saying that lust and anger are the same as adultery and murder. The physical consequences are obviously less dramatic and far-reaching, but evil desire or intent is just as deadly to the soul as evil action. In that sense perhaps we are all the chiefest of sinners.