Tuesday, September 02, 2003

In the Beginning

Paul almost invariably starts his letters with some variation on the words "Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle . . .” James begins his letter in almost the same way, as does Peter. I have begun noticing these introductions lately and wondering about them. Why do these writers seem to think it so important to begin a letter stating who they are, what they are about, especially since those who originally received these letters probably knew very well who the writers were? Why did Paul think it so important that he declare it over and over again that he was "called" to be an apostle?

I've thought about what would happen if I began every one of my blog posts in this manner -- "Ron, a slave of Jesus Christ, called to write silly things on the Internet." I guess this might accomplish a couple of things. First, it would remind me exactly what my priorities for this blog should be -- to serve Christ in everything I write. It would set the tone for each post and help write things that built up the Church and those in it, rather than anything that would tear it down. It might also remind me that whatever talent or ability I may have, I have through no fault of my own. I might also remember that any talent I have was given to me for use in furthering the Kingdom of God.

I have also tended to think of these introductions as being intended to remind the reader that he or she too is "called" to some specific role in the Kingdom. Perhaps there is something to this. We all need to be reminded of these things. But these formulaic introductions have become so familiar that we glance over them in order to get on to the real meat of the letter. However, the writers of the Epistles began those letters in this way for a reason, and no part of Scripture is meaningless. Perhaps this is the most important reminder of all.

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