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Saint PaulI love Paul! Yeah, I don’t hate myself (I’m not madly in love with myself either) but I am referring to the original, biblical Paul this time. I love Jesus too, but hey, I am a masculine type, so I love them both in a very spiritual way!

Today I opened my Bible and read Romans 9 to my family at the dinner table. That Chapter is really hard to understand! It looks like God is arbitrarily inviting people (the loved ones) to live with him and for him, while others are not loved and rejected: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” That doesn’t seem fair to me – from my humble human perspective. And Paul was anticipating my reaction…

“What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” (Romans 9:14, 15)

Okay. Who am I to argue with God? That is exactly the point Paul makes next: ‘One of you [I guess that’s me!] will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?’ (Romans 9:20,21)

Is it just me, or do other believers struggle with these answers too?

The answer Paul gives in Romans 9 reminds me of the highly intimidating answers (or rather: series of questions) poor Job receives from God (Job 38-41). Who are you to question God? Okay, okay… I’m just a man, asking some silly questions – please excuse me for being so frank and inquisitive.

The Bible provides many answers, but asks us a lot of questions too. That’s one of the reasons why it’s such a fascinating collection of books. And I struggle with the biblical answers and with my human questions on a daily basis.

Today I saw this portrait that forensic scientists in Germany made of a man called Paul. Maybe this is a mixture of good guesses and some excellent scientific research – who knows? As a fervent reader of Paul’s letters in the Bible, I’ve made something like a mental picture of this man. And this could be him, if you’d ask me, because this picture is ‘rhyming’ with my mind’s imagination. Paul looks tough, smart, strict, disciplined, a bit dark and very intriguing. This man knows a thing or two about difficult questions and real suffering. I trust that I will see him one day face to face and I would like to ask him some direct questions. But first I want to see Jesus, of course. Maybe then there will be no questions left for me to ask?

“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

Inspired by the Bible and by this news story

5 Comments

  1. Nice picture, now I will always see him like this when I read his inspiring words. In my mind, I guess he’s a bit more tanned, weather-beaten, because of the travelling and stuff.

    And yes, you are not the only one struggling with these kinds of questions. It’s very difficult not to talk back to God in this sort of matters. God is not human, and maybe that’s both the most difficult and most lucky thing about Him.

  2. Thnx for this reflection! Who am i to ask questions to such a souvereign God. I want to trust Him in his ways and be the pot of clay he made me.

  3. Thanks for your visits and replies, maxplanck and Annemijn. Encouraging to notice that some people are actually reading this blog😉 and that you are trying to understand these difficult questions and answers too. Keep coming back!

  4. Great thought provoking questions. Nothing wrong with questions. I’ve always felt a certain affinity with the apostle Thomas. His doubts always lead to questions. And as any person of faith knows – every question will lead to an answer sooner or later in Gods own timing. Regarding the Apostle Paul, I’ve long had a really difficult time with most of his writing which at times seems so contradictory. It’s only been recently in my studies that I’ve gained a new respect for the subtleties in his writing and the grace and mercy that fills it. Great stuff.

  5. Oh I also wanted to say this image looks curiously like a mosaic on the cover of a book called PAUL: The Mind Of The Apostle by A.N. Wilson.
    http://books.google.com/books?id=0B5hqoAkd-oC&dq=paul+mind+of+the+apostle&printsec=frontcover&source=bn&hl=en&ei=d4OGSoTrBYnQM4yDjfME&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4#v=onepage&q=&f=false


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