Tuesday, March 16, 2010

No Take Backs...

Have you ever said or done something you wish you could take back? I remember when I was a kid, we were forever calling each other names, and that was forever resulting in one or the other of us sayin, "You take that back!" But there's a problem. Once the words leave your lips there are no take backs. We can apologize profusely, but we can't take back something once it has been said or done.

As I get older, I still find myself wanting to take back something I have said or done. Now, sometimes, it's more things that I may have done, and not said, because my internal filter kicks in before my mouth engages every now and then. Not always, but I'm getting better about it.

Paul wanted a take back once. Well, ok, at least once. He was writing to the Corinthians in what we have as his first letter to them (for the record, it could be his third letter to them) and was talking about divisions in the church. Some were saying they followed Paul, some followed Apollos, some Cephas, and hey, there were even some that said they followed Christ.

As a pastor, I can imagine Paul just shaking his head, thinking, "What in the world have I done?" What he does say tickles me a little, especially if you allow yourself to have a little fun with the scriptures. He says, "I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one could say that you were baptized into my name." But here is what tickles me, he goes on to say, "Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don't remember if I baptized anyone else." I'm sorry, that's just funny to me.

Here is Paul, one of the founders of the church as we know it, (who had been put in chains for his faith, persecuted, arrested, beaten, and finally killed) and here he is looking for a take back. Well, maybe not a total takeback, but he is doing a little crawdaddin'.

Now, to understand why I thought this was funny, you have to get inside my head and read it the way I read it, and I thank one of my professors for this. I can picture Paul, dictating this letter to some scribe, talking to the folks in Corinth through the scribes pen, and then he gets to this part about the baptisms. "I'm thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gais, so that no one could say that you were baptzied into my name...Well dang, wait a minute, there was also those folks at Stephanas' house. Ok, I baptized them too, but that's it. I didn't baptize anyone else. At least I don't think I did. Yeah, we'll go with that."

Now please understand, and I can't say this enough, when I play with the scriptures like this I mean no disrespect. I do however, recognize that these folks were human, and I get a little tickled when their halo goes out for a second and their humanity shows through. Those moments make the scriptures real for me and not just words on a page.

If Paul did things that he wanted to take back, and this is only one of them, then at those times when I'm also looking for a take back, I know I'm in pretty good company.


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