Skip to content

The worst role model in history?

My post on the Sola Panel yesterday:

The [incident] involving rugby league personality Matthew Johns was predatory, degrading and offensive, federal Sports Minister Kate Ellis says … “I think that’s offensive and inappropriate for our sporting role models.”

But where does that leave the Apostle Paul?

The comment quoted above is typical of the huge volume of condemnatory statements being made about Johns in recent days in response to the revelation that he had participated in distasteful sex acts in the past. The lascivious details of the incident have been repeated ad nauseum by media outlets. Johns’ behaviour, while strictly ‘legal’, has been rightly rejected as unconscionable. He has been sacked or suspended from many public positions where he might be seen as a role model by younger players or viewers. You can’t have such a person acting as an ambassador for your cause or a host of your TV show.

This is why the Apostle Paul’s position is so surprising. Remember that sordid episode in his early career? Not only did he stand by and approve while a saintly Christian leader was violently executed by a gang of religious leaders (Acts 7:58-8:1), he embarked on a personal vendetta against Christians, doing his utmost to wipe them off the face of the map. His actions, while strictly legal, were utterly unethical (Acts 9:1-2). He was persecuting the Lord himself (Acts 9:4-5). Paul himself admits that his behaviour made him the lowest of low-life scumbags (1 Cor 15:9, Eph 3:8).

So how did God respond to Paul’s predatory behaviour? Did God sack him from his position as a member of his chosen people Israel? Did God issue public statements of condemnation? No! In fact, God gave Paul a promotion! God appointed Paul to be his very own personal ambassador to the world—a role model for billions of Christians ever since:

To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ … (Paul, Eph 3:8)

What’s the difference between God and Channel 9, Johns’ former employer? How could God possibly countenance such a low-life scumbag as his personal ambassador? And why would I want to teach my kids to listen to anything Paul says?

The answer lies at the very heart of the message that Paul was commissioned to preach. It was a message of forgiveness, reconciliation and transformation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus doesn’t sweep sin under the carpet or leave the victims in the lurch; he paid the ultimate price for sin and satisfied the justice of God. He brings real forgiveness and real repentance (not half-hearted apologies), and restores even the worst of sinners to the status of being a glorious co-heir of God. That’s why Paul, the worst of sinners, is the perfect ambassador for this message.

Published inPaulThe Briefing

Publications by Lionel Windsor:

  • Lift Your Eyes: Reflections on Ephesians

Recent blog posts

  • From temple to meat market in ancient Pompeii
    A very quick journey from the temple of Jupiter in Pompeii to the meat market. This helps us to understand 1 Corinthians 8-10 and probably also Romans 14.
  • TogetherThe formation of gentile Christ-believing identity vis-à-vis Israel in Ephesians and Barnabas
    Article in the journal Biblica et Patristica Thoruniensia. Keywords: Ephesians; Barnabas; Israel; replacement theology; collective memory; ethnic identity
  • Where they burn books…
    A reflection on “Bibliothek", the memorial to the Nazi book-burning of 10 May 1933 in Berlin. Could we ever end up in a similar situation?
  • Reformation sights in Oxford UK
    Some sights in Oxford UK, that are especially significant for Reformation history and the deaths of the Oxford Martyrs Latimer, Ridley, and Cranmer.
  • Lift Your EyesLift Your Eyes: Introducing Ephesians
    The central message of Ephesians is that the God of the universe has an amazing plan, which is being put into effect through the preaching of the gospel.
  • Luke 5:1-32 SermonWho is Jesus for?
    Who are the right kind of people according to Jesus? Is Jesus just for one kind of person in our world: Christians versus everyone else? Is Jesus for you?
  • TogetherThe formation of gentile Christ-believing identity vis-à-vis Israel in Ephesians and Barnabas
    Article in the journal Biblica et Patristica Thoruniensia. Keywords: Ephesians; Barnabas; Israel; replacement theology; collective memory; ethnic identity
  • Is God Green? By Lionel WindsorIs God Green?
    A short book about what the Bible says about the environment: why the world is in a mess, where it's headed, and what to do about it in the here and now.
  • Donald RobinsonVale Donald Robinson
    From SydneyAnglicans: One of the towering figures of Anglicanism in the 20th century and former Archbishop of Sydney Bishop Donald Robinson, has died at the age of 95. … The first to pay
  • Interview with Sydney Anglicans about the War on Waste
    I was interviewed by SydneyAnglicans.net about the TV series War on Waste: "Our cause should be the gospel, and that gospel will reshape everything"

On this site

All content copyright Lionel Windsor