“I was beaten with rods three times. I was stoned once. I was shipwrecked three times.
I spent a day and a night on the open sea.”
2 Corinthians 11:25 (Common English Bible)
Trent Harmon shared recently that his country single, There’s A Girl, was inspired not by one girl, but by several romances that Harmon has experienced. With an upbeat and happy tempo, the song is about how guys are driven by girls and how they drive guys to do things they normally wouldn’t do. “Why would we drive six hundred miles one way? Blow through cash that we ain’t made. Get tattoos, wash our trucks, push and press our luck.” The storytelling is crisp and true, a light-hearted look at the old, well-worn phrase, “love makes you do crazy things.” The song is deeply heartfelt and romantic while also poking fun at himself for all the stupid things he does when a girl consumes his attention.
In his letter to the Corinthian Church, the apostle Paul is singing a similar song, “I was beaten with rods three times. I was stoned once. I was shipwrecked three times. I spent a day and a night on the open sea.” Why would any rational person subject themselves to these things? They wouldn’t. And that is precisely Paul’s point. Trent Harmon does stupid things because, “There’s A Girl,” and Paul opens himself to such mistreatment and danger because, “There is a man named Jesus” who has overtaken any rational thought. Harmon has been taken captive by his love for a girl; Paul has been taken captive by Jesus’ love for Paul. A lyric in Harmon’s song is, “Why does any man do anything in the whole damn world?” The apostle Paul has an answer. It is love.
Paul acknowledges in his letter to the Corinthian Church that he is bragging when he shares all he has suffered. But Paul is equally clear that this bragging is not for self-aggrandizement. What Paul urgently wants the reader to hear is that there is a man, a man named Jesus, and that if you pay attention to that man, his love for you will get to you; his love for you will result in you doing stupid and irrational things. The love of Jesus Christ is so pervasive that neither beatings, or stoning, or being shipwrecked can drive that love out of you.
Naturally, what Paul desires by his “bragging” is that we would become curious about this kind of love. Trent Harmon sings, “Why would we ask when we know we can’t dance? Show our hands and change our plans. Lose our minds, break our hearts and learn to play guitar. Why does any man do anything in the whole damn world? ‘Cause there’s a girl. ‘Cause there’s a girl.” Why would Paul place himself in harm’s way, suffer beatings and endure stoning and spend a night and day on an open sea when that is so dangerous? Because there’s a man who has gotten to him. And Paul wants you to know him also.