A Really Human Glance Into the Heart of Paul



We are notorious, even in the religious world (I might say especially those in the religious world), of putting people on pedestals. People really do worship other people. One might label is “idolizing,” but let’s quit wasting time with semantics. We worship people. The other day I heard on the radio that Kim Kardashion pays one individual in particular $100,000 a year to do one thing–make sure her social media pics are perfect. I am not making this up. What must a person feel on the inside to want to pay that kind of money to avoid appearing in a manner deemed less than perfect? I will tell you: they feel the pressure of a society that makes idols. People make idols when there is a vacancy. A hole. An emptiness. Nobody likes an empty glass. 

In spiritual circles, we are not that much better. How else can you explain why when a famous minister fails morally, thousands walk away from the faith? It is simple: that person had become a Jesus in the hearts of those who walked away. Nobody is perfect. Nobody has it altogether. Matter of fact, this is one of the main reasons that St. Augustine wrote Confessions. People no longer looked upon him as a regular ol’ human just like the rest. Augustine wanted people to be clear on one thing, that he was common just like the rest of them, and that what God had done in him He could do in anyone else. Elitism denied. Special status rejected. That simple. 

All of this to say, today I came across a simple verse in a rather obscure portion of Romans (at least obscure compared with other portions). At the end of this letter in which Paul pledged to do everything he can to come and visit, he writes, “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too” (Romans 16:13 NIV). Wow. Who has been a mother to me, too. He did not use grandious spiritual lingo. He did not use the word mentor. Rather, he simply said that Rufus’ mom was like a mom to him also. Very personal. No Christianese. Just a plain statement from a plain man about a plain woman who had, by her own volition, chosen to mother Paul. Think about this. This woman, whose name is NOT even given, becomes canonized (included in the Holy Scripture). 

Can you be a plain person for the Lord? Are you approachable? Are you always talking about what you are doing or what God is up to? In other words, do you talk a lot about yourself or do you talk a lot about Christ and his work in and through you? 

You know what was so special about Paul and why we are tempted to idolize him? He was that surrendered. We are not use to seeing that. Paul was so so so surrendered that God could do great things with him. That is all. Paul was like you and like me, so common, so regular, that a woman whose name is not even mentioned was worth special recognition in his letter to Roman Christians. 

Paul writes, “Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited” (Romans 12:16). I could fill a small book with words from Paul that resound with this humble tone. 

Why is this important? Well, if Paul was that human, then God can use you and I in really significant ways just like he did Paul. 

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