Now, Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the High Priest and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

Acts 9: 1, 2

 

Just for the sake of clarity this man here named Saul is the same one that we know as Paul, the Apostle. The author of at least thirteen of the books of the New Testament, and the man whose writing brings depth of insight to our relationship with God that is beyond value. This same man who would willingly give everything he had in this life in order to serve Jesus is here seen preparing to go to the ends of the earth and to spare absolutely no effort in seeking to crush the life out of this new religious sect made up of people who were following the teaching of the recently crucified man named Jesus. If the transition, the transformation that takes place in Saul in a matter of hours is not proof of the unending grace and the all-searching love of Christ, then, nothing else could be sufficient to prove them.

 

The Lord went after the chief tormentor of His people, but He was not out to get revenge or to hold Saul accountable in the ways that most of us seek to do these things with the people that have harmed or hurt us. Saul was confronted with his sin, and he was forced to answer for what he had done; yet, the Lord wanted Saul to see that he was loved despite who he was and what he had done and that God had a place for him to be useful and valuable in both this world and in eternity. The Lord brings this same sort of unyielding, unrelenting, and total pursuit to bear in the lives of everyone. Additionally, Christ brings the potential for salvation from eternal death and for the redemption of the rest of this life so that it can be lived for the glory of God.

 

When I look at this picture of the extraordinary way that God seeks to bring all people under His grace and of the drive that He has to enter into a relationship with each of us, I am humbled by my own lack of the same qualities and the same drive to bring loving truth to others. The Lord desires that each of us would start to see the potential in others rather than focusing on their lostness. Christ calls on each of His people to follow His lead in bringing the truth of the gospel to everyone in our lives. Just as He does not back away from people because of how they have lived, what they have done, or how unlikely they might seem to be to respond to God, we can not judge either. The next person that I meet on life’s road deserves to meet and to know the love of Christ, and I am sent by my Lord into the world to share this love, the love that has already saved me.

 

Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

2 Timothy 2: 7

 

Wow! Understand, this is something that I would really like to possess. In saying this I do mean understanding in sum total much more than the commonplace sorts of things that many of us find obscure or difficult to grasp. Paul is discussing something that is far beyond the assembly of toys on Christmas Eve, my children’s math homework, or people who are a generation younger or older than myself. The Apostle is telling us that we can hope to truly understand life and that followers of Christ have the ability and the capacity to dwell in this land of understanding that applies to everything.

 

It is my impression that when Paul invites us to think over what he says that he is actually inviting us into a regular practice of deeply considering God’s word and the revealing truth that it contains. This practice of discipline does involve the regular reading of scripture, but it goes beyond this. God wants me to think about the words and to let my mind give careful consideration to what the Lord is saying to me through them. He asks me to be still and to listen to what His Spirit is speaking to my heart and to my mind. God also promises to respond as I turn to Him prayerfully seeking His wisdom, truth, and guidance.

 

It is in all of this that we find the sort of understanding that fills the voids in our ability to live courageously and peacefully in our world. In this place of meditation and prayer Christ guides my heart out of my self-centeredness and into His love and concern for my neighbors. He brings me to a place where I can fully trust in God’s absolute authority and power while living in the insane storm of violence and pain that is swirling like a tornado all over the globe. As I think over God’s word it seems as if His hand is writing a message to me that is personal and directed toward the issues, concerns, and situations that I am facing today. God’s words of truth bring me closer to Him, and this is where all understanding dwells.