From the beginning, Christ was the plan and the purpose for creation. Christ is the revelation of love and the destination of love. And Christ is what holds everything together until we get there. So Rohr says that we have to stop thinking of Christ as the "divine plumber" come to fix the mess we got ourselves in. [Rohr, "Love Is the Nature of Being," 10/25/16] When we make Jesus out to be a problem solver, we make him too small and our understanding of salvation becomes small, too. But salvation is not just the solution to the problem of human sin. It is much bigger than that. Salvation is God's purpose for everything.
I'm thinking that Paul, in his best moments, was able to write down truth that he had not yet lived. On rare occasions, like in his letter to the Galatians, he was able to glimpse a vision of a kingdom that had not yet come. The fact that he couldn't live there all the time only confirms what we already know about ourselves: that our vision is incomplete (we see as in a mirror dimly, I Corinthians 13); that our spiritual connection to God is intermittent at best; and that our culture usually has more influence on us than Christ does. So just because Paul couldn't grasp the full implications of the gospel and its radical vision of freedom and inclusion is no reason for us to dismiss him. Whether he knew it or not, Paul planted the seeds for that vision. Buried deep in his words was a Word about dignity and equality that has taken many centuries to begin to grow.
This transformation—from false self to true self—is made possible by the mystery of faith that we proclaim in the sacrament of communion: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. This is the mystery we have to participate in if we want to be made alive in Christ, the mystery that says that something in us has to die before we can really live, something in us has to break down before we can be raised up. That's why Paul is always boasting about his weakness, why he always seems to be savoring his suffering. It's not because he's a masochist, but because he's participating in the mystery, he is imitating the Messiah.