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Contemporary Comments 2017
Paul: Mission and Message
Paul: Mission and Message
1 Corinthians 1:22-24; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7; 1 Corinthians 15:12-22; Acts 15:38-41
September 19, 2015
The message is simple: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” These words on a plaque on the Statue of Liberty (whether the sentiment is still true or not) greet everyone coming into New York Harbor.
A world away, the heartbreaking photo shows the lifeless body of two-year-old Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish shoreline. Aylan’s brother Galip, and his mother Rehen, also drowned while trying to escape the terrors of war in their Syrian homeland. Along with their father, Abdullah, they were trying to make their way to Canada to connect with Abdullah’s sister, Tima Kurdi.
The Kurdi family boarded a small fiberglass boat in Turkey manned by two smugglers. Since it was very crowded Abdullah asked them, “Should we empty the boat? Should I get off with my wife and children?” One of the smugglers replied, "No, no, it is good.” Large waves began crashing against the boat soon after the refugees set out.
Kurdi again raised his concern but the smuggler insisted, “It is guaranteed. Guaranteed.” Shortly afterward, the smugglers jumped overboard and swam toward shore as the waves pounded harder and higher. Kurdi tried to take control of the boat but it capsized in the rough waters. “I tried to reach for my wife and children,” he said—but they slipped out of reach. 1
The situation is creating a humanitarian crisis in Europe as the image of little Aylan clashes with the desire of many Europeans to close their borders to these refugees. Indeed, many here in the U.S. would like to chisel off the welcoming statement at the base of the Statue of Liberty. The message is still there, but the question remains: is the message still true?
Paul turned the world upside down with a simple message: God throws open the gates of heaven to all who will come. Jews and Greeks, soldiers and athletes, men and women, legalists and libertarians, young and old are all invited to taste freely of the water of life. The only qualification is that you must be thirsty for heaven. Paul’s mission in life was to get this word out to as many people as possible as long as he had breath on his lips.
Paul adapted the way he presented this message to reach a variety of people. He became all things to all people in order that he might by all possible means save some. One aspect of Paul’s message remained constant, however: the cross opens the door to heaven to all who long for a better life, and all are welcome at the foot of the cross.
That message is still true, especially if you’re tired, poor, and huddled together yearning to breathe free against the cruel bondage of evil in this world.