Paul and Columbo

Faith & Inspiration

I have a feeling that Paul wasn't a sharp dresser. Or perhaps he had a habit of wiping his runny nose on his sleeve. People who are engrossed in otherworldly things can be absentminded about worldly things. Didn't the astronomer Thales fall into a well while stargazing? And you fiftysomethings will remember Peter Falk's Columbo character, the brilliant investigator who made a risible first impression by showing up at the crime scene in a rumpled trench coat. The bad guys dismissed him as an inferior, but he always got his man.

My personal observation is that no one can pay attention to everything at the same time. You cannot, simultaneously, be thinking about God and your bad hair day. "One thing is necessary," Jesus said. "Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:42). Paul too.

But there is a social downside. The people of Corinth didn't seem to like Paul very much. They constricted their affections toward him (2 Corinthians 6:11-13). It was a love-hate thing: they loved his letters, but despised his personal presence (10:10). If only he would just write letters!

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What the Corinthians liked was spiritual swagger: "For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face" (11:20). They liked people who commended themselves and who measured people by comparing them to other people (10:12). They liked guest speakers who could produce references and recommendations from important folks (3:1-3). They liked guest speakers who made them put up the best accommodations for them (11:9). (That's how they knew they had gotten their money's worth.)

The guy who led me to the Lord was like Paul (I told you about Bob in a previous post)---a total diamond in the rough and physical fixer-upper. The pastor of the church we went to gave him no respect, though he had uncommon gifts. (It was a wealthy blue-blood community where Bob had a job painting ships.) The seminary he tried to get into refused him because he lacked degrees (that is, approval from worldly institutions of higher learning).

That, by the way, is how I ended up in seminary. Bob was so desperate to know more about God that he told me he would pay my way if I went to seminary for him and passed him my notes. So, as I wasn't doing anything else with my life at the time, I went.

Keep a look out for blessings in unlikely packages.

It's funny. I'm no Bob or Paul. But one time I was invited to a retreat in Massachusetts and a woman said to me after my talk, "You're not a very polished speaker." I took it as a compliment.

To hear commentaries by Andrée Seu, click here.

Andrée Seu
Andrée Seu

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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