Are they servants of Christ? I can go them one better. (I can't believe I'm saying these things. It's crazy to talk this way! But I started, and I'm going to finish.)
I've been flogged five times with the Jews' thirty-nine lashes,
beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I've been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day.
In hard traveling year in and year out, I've had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I've been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers.
I've known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather.
And that's not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches.
When someone gets to the end of his rope, I feel the desperation in my bones. When someone is duped into sin, an angry fire burns in my gut.
If I have to "brag" about myself, I'll brag about the humiliations that make me like Jesus.
The eternal and blessed God and Father of our Master Jesus knows I'm not lying.
Remember the time I was in Damascus and the governor of King Aretas posted guards at the city gates to arrest me?
I crawled through a window in the wall, was let down in a basket, and had to run for my life.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)