By Robert Halsey Pine
“Then all the city was aroused, and the people rushed together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the doors were shut.” (Acts 21:27-36 NRSV).
Paul was committed to preach the Gospel in the temples no matter how much he was rejected and no matter how much it endangered his life. In this particular case, he brought a Greek with him into the temple, which was viewed as defiling the holy place. We might view Paul as the “punching bag” of early Christianity.
Even though Paul’s ministry was a serious one, it is almost comical how Paul gets kicked around, only to dust himself off and go right back into the fray. The soldiers and the centurions were directed to go see what the uproar was about at the temple. They could not determine exactly why the crowd was mad at Paul and ended up actually protecting him from being killed. Paul may have been the first “slap-stick” comedian. He never seemed discouraged. He must have had a good sense of humor. Each time it appeared that he was going to be destroyed, he’d pop up somewhere else.
My whole view of Paul changes when I think of him as a comic hero. I learn something wonderful from Paul. As intent as he was for the Lord, he didn’t take himself too seriously. His “bounce back” ways are encouraging to me today in a world with so many negatives and so much depression. Paul is like a character in a comic play or movie. There’s no calamity that he can’t seem to endure. His enemies are laughable in their frustration with him.
As modern day Christians, we can sometimes take ourselves too seriously. God must have a sense of humor. Just look around at each other. We tend to get our feelings hurt when things don’t go our way. We worry more about the business part of organized religion than we do “God’s business.” Paul had one concern and that was to spread the good news to everyone he could get to. He wasn’t worried about his own feelings. He didn’t have time for worry and negativism. The message of God’s love for us and His forgiveness of our sins through the death and resurrection of Jesus were much more important for Paul than anything else. He was committed to pass it on.
Shall we join him?
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.