I spent most of the day working on a message inspired by 1 Corinthians 1:18- 25. In that passage, the apostle Paul says that the cross and the message it sends are foolishness to the self-styled wisdom of convention, but to those who “are being saved, it is the power of God.”
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the ways the life of Jesus bucked convention. His birth and upbringing, his passion, death, and resurrection. let alone his passion, death, and resurrection. Te irony, subversion, and poetry of Christ’s story is precisely what I find so compelling.
Last night, while I watched Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith throw down about the trade rumors swilring around Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, I did a little reading up on lifelong Celtic forward Paul Pierce. It’s not often that professional athletes quote Mark Twain and Blaise Pascal on the front page of their website, but as Shaquille O’Neal will tell you, “Paul Pierce is the Truth.” As Pierce’s website reminds any nonbeliever: After a Lakers’ victory over the Celtics in 2001, O’Neal pulled a Boston reporter over and gestured toward his notepad:
“Take this down,” said O’Neal. “My name is Shaquille O’Neal and Paul Pierce is the [%*$&ing] truth. Quote me on that and don’t take nothing out. I knew he could play, but I didn’t know he could play like this. Paul Pierce is the truth.”
Compare that wit the first three verses of the apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthians:
“Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, to the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
My name is Paul and this is how it is with Jesus.
My name is Shaquille O’Neal and Paul Pierce is the truth.
Sometimes that’s how I feel about the poetry of Jesus’ story. Whatever else, that poetry’s the truth.
“Fiction is bound by possibility,” Pierce quotes Twain as saying, “the truth is not.” Pascal adds, “we know the truth not only by reason, but also with the heart.”