Meeting Paul at Panera

It’s really easy to forget the Early Church was made up of normal people like us.  Sure, we read of their sins and screw-ups, but miss some of the relational nature of their existence.  Preaching in Galatians 2 this week I got to sit down with Paul at Panera and ask him about his relationship with Cephas (I prefer calling him Peter).

MS (Mark Spansel): Paul, good to get some time with you this morning, can I get you a cup of coffee?

AP (Apostle Paul): No thanks, I prefer tea … and one of those big non-kosher, really sugary cinnamon rolls.

MS: Got it, be right back.

MS: Tell me about the time you sat down with Peter in Jerusalem to talk circumcision.  What was that like?

AP: Well, Mark, it’s always hard to communicate everything on paper, so thanks for asking more than what I got a chance to write in chapter 2 to the Galatian churches.  I love Peter, I love that a fisherman and a guy like me could sit down and talk honestly about life, ministry, and theology.  You know we were working hard those days to figure everything out and make sure we didn’t split the church.  People were talking, those Judizers spying out our freedom made things difficult and we knew we needed to just talk things out.  So he cleared his busy schedule as I was in town and we hammered things out.

MS: Did he take some convincing?

AP: Sure, he’s a stubborn guy like me.  He has the baggage of his experiences and his traditions, but don’t we all.  I think once he realized I wasn’t interested in making him like me, but making sure we were on the exact same page about Jesus, the conversation got a lot clearer.  It’s a funny thing, when you actually treat people with respect and the honor they deserve how much hostility is taken out of the conversation.  The bottom line Mark, is that we both greatly respect each other and greatly love the work of Jesus in our own lives.  We want everyone to hear about the Messiah who fulfilled the law.

MS: But it gets tricky working out all the law stuff with Jews and Gentiles, doesn’t it?

AP:  That’s an understatement.  In many respects we were trying to mix oil and water.  Outside of Jesus, these two groups didn’t want anything to do with each other.  But I suppose that’s what I love watching God do – take differences and make one body.  It’s a pretty amazing thing to watch. Anyway, we knew we needed to make sure these issues were surfaced, talked about honestly and openly, and that we made a commitment to keep at it.

MS: What do you mean by keep at it?

AP: Well, we knew we’d have to have more conversations about this issue.  It was obvious it would get complicated and personal.  We vowed to not shoving this under the rug, not letting the enemies tear us apart, and invited each other to speak truth to one another.

MS: Paul, that fires me up.  It’s cool to see your commitment to the Gospel and to each other, we need more of that going on, for sure!

AP: Yeah, I guess the bottom line is this – Not one of us has it all figured out, BUT we do know that it all comes back to the cross.  It took me a little while to get it, in fact I didn’t get it, God made me get it.  Peter, he was impulsive, around Jesus a lot, but still head-strong and felt like a big failure.  He thought he was done, but God is so gracious to take a couple guys like us and commission us for such great Kingdom work.  You know, Peter invites me every year to come to his house and celebrate Passover.  We don’t do the blood over the door thing, we just sing and celebrate the blood that was once for all shed for us.  We have a sweet party rejoicing in the completed work of Jesus, the fulfillment of the law, and the lover of our souls.  And you know what?  For all our differences, we know the one thing that matters most – Jesus saved, Jesus saves, and we get to be a part of it.  Well, I’m starting to preach now, but thanks for taking the time to ask … I love talking about this stuff.  God bless my brother, and never move on from the cross.

MS: Brother, your words are sweet to my soul, I’ll never forget them … and thanks for speaking truth to me every time I pick up your letters.  They always point me to Jesus!

** This conversation is completely factual, and it may be reproduced in its entirety free of charge.

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