In a stack of ancient documents on my desk I discovered a worn manuscript. When I had translated it from the original language, I found that it claimed to be a transcript of an actual interview from the 1st Century. I have published it here. You may notice that some portions bear quite a resemblance to writings in the New Testament.
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Joseph Friday: “Hello. My name is Joseph Friday. I’m the chairman of the pulpit committee for the Bigger Bible Church of (text unclear). I’m here to interview a potential candidate for pastor of our church, a Mr. Paul, also known as Saul, of Tarsus.
Mr. Paul, you have filled out our questionnaire, but some of your answers are a little strange. Perhaps this interview will help to clear the air a little. All we want are the facts.
Let me start with your calling and fitness for the ministry. Can you explain your background, calling and your qualifications to be a minister?”
Paul: “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service; even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. And yet I was shown mercy, because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.”
Joseph: “Could you tell us your denominational background?”
Paul: “Circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee.”
Joseph: “And why have you ceased to be active in this denomination?”
Paul: “Whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.”
Joseph: “We understand that you are not married. We consider it advantageous for a minister to be married. How do you see it?”
Paul: “It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that. But I want to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided.”
Joseph: “I noticed on your resume’ that you’ve pastored a number of churches, but for relatively short periods. This does not look very stable. Can you explain this ‘flitting around’?”
Paul: “I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, that I might not build upon another man’s foundation … so as to preach the gospel even to the regions beyond you and not to boast in what has been accomplished in the sphere of another.”
Joseph: “Mmm! And your preaching style? The reports that we’ve heard are mixed. How would others describe it and how would you describe it?”
Paul: “Some say ‘His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is unimpressive and his speech contemptible.’
I would say I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you, except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”
Joseph: “Mmm. Mmm! What about your physical condition – your health? We need a healthy pastor!”
Paul: “On my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness.”
Joseph: “It appears that you have had some ‘legal problems.’ We want a man with good standing in the community. Can you explain your ‘run-ins’ with the law?
Paul: “In far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews 39 lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned. In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king was guarding the city of the Damascenes in order to seize me and I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and so escaped his hands.”
Joseph: “How about salary? How much could you get along on?”
Paul: “I know how to get along with humble means and I also know how to live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.”
Joseph: “That’s very noble sounding, but can you be a little more specific?”
Paul: “The elders who rule well should be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,’ and ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages.’”
Joseph: “What about your relationship with other ministers in the community? We want one who avoids controversy. Have you ever had any conflict with fellow ministers?”
Paul: “When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.”
Joseph: “Yes, yes. How about your reading habits? What have you read lately? A pastor must be well-read, you know.
Paul: “The books, especially the parchments. The sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
Joseph: “Mr. Paul, the one thing that most disappointed me about your resume’ was a certain vagueness in your goals. Would you please explain more clearly just what your goals are?”
Paul: “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death: in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
Joseph: “Thank you Mr. Paul. This has been quite interesting. Don’t call us. We’ll call you.”