There are many who boast that they have visited heaven or seen horrors of hell. Some photoshop their pictures along with huge crowds to show they are celebrities with huge fans. Such projections, promotions or propaganda are termed as ‘larger than life’ profiles. This is like what aspiring movie stars do to promote themselves. Paul refused to do this: “though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than He sees in me or hears from me.” (II Corinthians 12:6) What a modest statement in comparison with self-promoting Christian leaders.
1) Boast? Paul refused to boast about his experiences to impress people or increase his fan-following or his income. He was clear that he would boast only the cross. (Galatians 6:14)
2) Image engineering: Model media savvy Christian leaders believe in image-building, and image-boosting. Like Paul they do not want people to see and hear as he was. The listeners should be overwhelmed by the ‘halo’ created by image-engineering that they become impressive fans of their clubs.
3) Refrain or repeat? Paul refrained or avoided talking about that unique, marvellous spiritual experience. Paul did not want to paint a picture that he is ‘spiritual superman.’ Self-promoters keep on repeating their ‘superior spiritual qualities’ to gain advantage to interfere in the lives of the people who are devotees.
4) Fool or smart? Paul chose to be a fool instead of being smart by world standards. Yes, the smart worldly leaders would have ridiculed Paul for his naivety or stupidity. Yet, Paul refused to behave according to standards set by his detractors.
5) Truth not self: By speaking often about his own experiences Paul was afraid that he would be obscuring truth instead of amplifying truth. Though his experience was authentic, that should not be a hindrance for truth-seekers. Paul did not want disciples to seek after such experiences but seek the truth.
Do I exaggerate myself to impress others?