Friday, March 11, 2011

So there was this guy, see...

...and he was as mean as a snake, killing Christians for blaspheming the name of Jehovah.

Yeah.. You can guess who I'm speaking about. Saul. Remember him? Later on he became Paul, but for all of his childhood, and half of his adult life, people knew him as Saul. Putting people to death, simply because they didn't believe the same way he did. Giving consent to Stephen's stoning, he wrecked havoc on both churches and homes to those who were members of  "The Way". Saul was a pharisee, and was bent on protecting the good name of Jehovah. Stephen understood that the religious leaders, including Saul, were doing the murders out of ignorance. Christ was crucified through the ignorance of men. Had they known, they surely would not have killed God incarnate.

Acts tells us of Saul's conversion to Paul. On the road to Damascus, still breathing threats and murders against Christians, he had no intention of becoming one himself. Jesus, of course had other plans. The thing is, often times God will do the most bizarre things in our lives (at least to us) and put us in situations we had no intentions of being put in. God had plans for Saul. He knew all about Saul's killings, hatred, and other harm that he brought against God's children. In fact, he was on his way to get letters from the Chief Priest,  to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found anyone in the Way, whether men, or women he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

I honestly think Saul was sincere in his reasoning for eradicating Christians. For years and years, the Law of Moses had been their guide. Saul was brought up under the Law, his father was brought up under it, and perhaps even his grandpa, and grandpa before that. Now, all of a sudden this new way of living is being promoted, and GOD is who they're giving credit to? No way! Saul knew better. He'd been raised for this, and wasn't about to let some feel good religion spread this blasphemous doctrine! He was sincere, and tenacious in his work for God. Got to give him credit for that. God had to re-teach Paul what he thought he knew. Paul meant well, but was totally clueless as to the validity of the Gospel of Grace. Paul had a lot of unlearning to do.

That part I can understand. Like Paul, I was brought up in churches most of my life, totally sincere, and totally learned in the religion of the day. I could quote scripture back and forth, and had people convinced that I was way beyond my years as a young teenager. It was hard to let go of what I had been taught. After all, I had that teaching since I was a youngster. My parents had it taught to them in their childhood years. My grandparents had it taught to them in THEIR young years. Surely generations of teaching couldn't be wrong, could it? Well, there was just enough 'right' in there to sound good. The chalkboard of my mind had to be totally erased--the good, the bad, the ugly.  God, not my religion, needed to teach me from ground up. Whew! Lots of unlearning to do! Not that it worried God any. He had a plan the whole time. Just like with that mean old snake Saul, He had a plan for me. It's only in it's infancy, or so it seems to me, but it's definitely God working stuff out. Not sure where it's going to land me, while here on earth, but I do know God's got it under control.

Guess what? He's got plans for you, too. Think you'll never do 'this or that'? Think you'll always be doing this or that? Don't bet on it. My life hasn't turned out like I'd planned yet. Saul's life surely didn't turn out like he'd expected when he was a youngster in pharisee school. Why should yours be? Are you ready to have God erase your chalkboard and let Him teach you what He wants to you know? You might be pleasantly surprised! His ways are so much better than our ways. If your doctrine doesn't illustrate God's compassion, I'd look again at God's word.

Let's face it, if the Holy Spirit doesn't teach us, we're not taught. 

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