In the apocryphal account of Paul and Thecla, Onesiphorus describes Paul as “a man small of stature, with a bald head and crooked legs, in a good state of body, with eyebrows meeting and nose somewhat hooked.” He’s a short dude with strong opinions and a bristly personality. He’s got the short man complex and he’s spoiling for a fight. He’s also got some rad scars from his past run-ins with the law.
“Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have laboured and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.”
2 Corinthians 11: 24-28
And yet Paul just won’t shut up. He is even found in jail with his cohort Barnabas, wondering what to do with himself after the authorities laid a beating on them and placed them in stocks in a cold and musty basement. Paul does what he does best. He doesn’t shut up. In that case, he bursts into song just in case the just and unjust alike thought they could get any sleep. He sings praises to God all night long. He wakes everyone up as he boldly proclaims the truth.
Paul is what our culture hates. An aging white man who has a clear picture of the world and won’t be intimidated from telling it. Paul. I have to say it. You’re the man. Preach it brother. I am with you. Could be that us aging white males are somewhat of a club. At any rate, we’ve got to stick together especially in trying times.
There are a lot of people trying to control what gets said today. They have a name for it: cancel culture. They don’t even have to give a reason. They just have to signal that you are on the wrong side of the zeitgeist and the personal attacks begin. They do not need to furnish any argument, they do not even have to tell the truth. They just have to point their finger so the mob can be properly directed. It’s (as we all know) torches and pitchforks time.
There has been quite a crackdown on freedom in Canada, notably against Christians. There are certain rights that are considered to be inalienable, the right to freedom of movement, freedom of speech, freedom of association, and of course, freedom of religion. All of these have been abused under our current government in Canada. There are a few notables who refuse to be shut down. They will one day be hailed as heroes. One is Pastor Artur Pawlowski, from Calgaray, Alberta. He has been persecuted by Canadian courts in the most grievous and unjustified manner.
“I am here, before this court as a political prisoner of conscience! The AHS and the politicians hate the idea, that they have been exposed for what they really are. Liars, hypocrites and cheaters! I have seen this growing back behind the Iron Curtain under the boots of the Soviets! I have heard from my grandparents about the similar tactics during the time of the Nazis! Persecuting Churches and the clergy!”
Let the politicians condemn in their earthly courts. They are on the wrong side of the Big Judge. As Paul states in Romans chapter 8, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8: 33-34)
All of this prosecutes the notion that if the government pushes, push back. Lean in, don’t back away. We are in good company from the saints and Patriarchs. “For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.” Isaiah 50:7
Alas. We are old white men. As Rosa Parks knew, when someone tells you that your gender and colour don’t matter, that you should sit down and shut up, it might be the time to stand up and say something. Speak truth to power. Your time has come. In fact your voice may be needed now, more than ever before.