Paul’s Ministry of Suffering and Pastor Steven Furtick
Today in my New Testament intro class I was covering Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians and we were discussing Paul’s understanding of “apostleship” vis-a-vis his opponents (the so-called “super-apostles”). It’s quite clear from all that Paul has written that he regards his ministry as one characterized by suffering and powerlessness rather than power, wealth, and prestige. In fact, at the end of his “catalogue of sufferings” he affirms that he has labored “through many a sleepless night, hungry and thirsty, often without food, cold and naked” (2 Cor 11:27). I pointed out to my students that Paul intimates that he is often lacking “the big 3″–food, clothing, and shelter. Before discussing the above statement I actually showed my students this news story about the controversy over evangelical megachurch pastor, Steven Furtick’s new $1.7 million home. Initially, many were unfazed. However, after we watched the video I read aloud the entirety of 2 Cor 11, and several of my students sprang to life with some surprising insights. One even indicated that the picture I have embedded above looks like a modern version of how the “super-apostles” must have appeared to Paul’s Corinthian audience. If you get a chance to watch the clip, ask yourself how Paul might respond to Pastor Furtick. I know it was a fun exercise for my students.