Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, March 1, 2018
Servant of This Gospel
As I have continued with the Lenten scripture readings for this past week set by the book Meeting God in Paul, I also read part of a chapter where Paul is described in detail. Rowan Williams has a remarkable understanding of Paul the man, as well as Paul the theologian.
I had never really thought about it before, but we have more of an actual description and more understanding of the apostle Paul the man than we do of almost anyone else in the ancient world—except for certain rulers and emperors. We know more of the person and description of Paul than we do about the person and description of Jesus, in fact. (We know lots of other things about the man Jesus while He was here on earth, but not so much about His person and physical description.)
Prof. Williams highlights some fascinating details about Paul, including a physical description from only a few years after the beginning of the second century. This was within the lifetime of someone who—as a young person—could have actually seen Paul. Written in Asia Minor, this account mentions that Paul “is a little man, bow-legged, thin-faced, hook-nosed, bald with heavy eyebrows meeting in the middle; and this is how he is invariably depicted in the most ancient Byzantine artistic tradition and in icons of him up to the present day.” 
In other words, Paul was not particularly photogenic. (It probably was a good thing that Paul did not live in either the 20th or 21st centuries, with the prevalence of cameras and other forms of media.) However short or near-sighted or bald he may have been, those were just elements of an exterior image of Paul. It was the interior that mattered to God. And, on the inside, Paul was an eloquent ambassador for Jesus. He called himself a servant of the Gospel or of the Lord several times in his New Testament letters. And, he meant it.
I wonder. Am I too caught up in what is on the exterior? Is someone’s image all-important to me? (Is my personal image that important to me? Dear Lord, please, no.) How about considering myself a servant of the Gospel, as Paul described himself to the believers in Ephesus? Lord, I hope so. I pray so. Help me to make it so. Thank You, God, for this wonderful book about Paul, filled with such meaningful words.
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 Meeting God in Paul: Reflections for the Season of Lent, Rowan Williams (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015), 19.