The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

1 Timothy 1: 15

There is a simple clarity in the way that Paul saw the truth about his condition in the eyes of God and concerning the darkness of his reality before Christ got ahold of him. He was a lost man who did not know that his sense of direction was corrupted so badly that he was navigating a course through life that was certain to lead to his own destruction. Yet, Paul was going at it all with a full head of steam and with no conception of the disaster that lay ahead for him and for anyone who joined in with him in his zeal for the cause of denying Christ to the point of defeating Jesus’ entire mission. Paul’s self-proclaimed stature as foremost among sinners is based upon his knowledge of God that had been gained as a direct result of his training as a rabbi, and it was perfected through the angry intensity of his drive to find and to destroy people who were following Christ.

We know the story. Jesus would not leave Paul alone. Finally, Jesus chases Paul down in the midst of a journey to expand the scope and the reach of his mission of defeat and destruction for the newly constituted church of Christ-followers. As the American rock band, The Eagles said,

“On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair, warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air.

Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light.

My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim.

I had to stop for the night.” 1.

After that remarkable time when Paul stopped running, he had little choice on that day, some thirty odd years have elapsed until this point in time when the wise, veteran itinerant preacher is providing guidance and wisdom to his young disciple, Timothy, and by extension, he is also giving us the benefit of this same eternal truth and counsel.

The same reality that was Paul’s belongs to everyone else, too. Christ Jesus came into this world to save each and every one of us, for all are born into sin, and Jesus is the one who redeems us from that dead and doomed state of being. Everything else that Jesus said, did, and demonstrated is secondary to that salvation-oriented purpose. For, if we are not in a relationship with God, all of our goodness, justice, and love are formed up out of whatever strength and capability that we may be able to summon up from within ourselves. It does not draw its energy and its guidance from the depths of the eternal that is resident by virtue of essential character in God, Himself. This is a resource that is made fully available to all of Christ’s followers through the presence of the Spirit. Although we may not always yield ourselves to God’s will and way of living, that is a story for another day, in Christ, we are taken out of the old, worldly way of viewing all of life, and we are granted the same reprieve from death that Paul was so excited to proclaim.

  1. Hotel California; Glenn Frey, Don Felder; released 02/1977.