The world into which Paul was born and which shaped his life
may have been similar to our own in many respects. Roman peace and Roman roads
made extensive travel possible. There was great wealth and great poverty.
Power was sought eagerly and sometimes wielded ruthlessly. There was almost
a single-minded pursuit of pleasure, constant dabbling with philosophies,
infatuation with games, an exaltation of man and the human body. But most
in this world also lived in a spiritual wilderness, seeking salvation in
blind rituals and cults - beliefs and practices that offered nothing to uplift
and comfort the heart.
Where in this world would this great man find
receptive listeners? Where could he form small groups of Christians who could
stand against the onslaught of the world? How many times would he have to be
beaten, stoned, expelled, jailed, thrust out in the dark of night? What
experience of the world would not be his? Is there anything that Paul would
Yet, with great diligence and patience Paul found his Christians,
often in the meanest parts of the world. He stood them on their feet, taught
them about a God who loved them, who sent his Son into the world to save them.
He taught them a new way to live. He brought them dignity and hope in a world
where they had none. And before his passing he established the communities of
faith that would be the basis for the growth of Christianity.