Thursday, February 18, 2016
Year 4-Day 49: I am grateful that grace means all my mistakes are not only forgiven...but that the very things that once caused shame can give me purpose.
Peter and Paul are two of my favorites. Peter struggled with impulse control. Paul was making a difference in his world, but he was serving the wrong master.
Peter had felt shame for his thrice denial of Jesus...the very thing he swore he would never do. Paul's heart suffered the shame for the many bothers and sisters in Christ he passionately put to death in his days as a Pharisee. Both carried great shame in their hearts - but grace set them free. Here are Paul's words:
"For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it." - Galations 1:13
Paul had religion down. He was good at it. He was "advanced for his age" in the eyes of religious leaders. He was passionate about Judism. Somewhere in his passion for religion, he missed things. He missed that faith is about a relationship and he missed the Messiah.
Peter was close to Christ. His passion must have been invigorating at the times Jesus was weary. And...it must of been exhausting at times, too. We just finished a series from our Pastor on Peter and my long time love of his story was renewed with a new discovery that I will share another day. I adore Peter. His passion fuels my soul...and his human failings make him real to me. He denied Jesus three times, but in grace...Jesus not only forgave, but gave him a huge assignment to tend, grow and care for the church.
Both Peter and Paul had to discover that the church was a people...not a religion. They had to leave behind their old ways and embrace Jesus not just as a great teacher...but as the son of a living God and the Messiah.
Jesus had already forgiven them. They had to forgive themselves and not let mistakes of the past cripple them in all that Jesus had for them to do. They would reach, teach, salt and light the way.
Christ's forgiveness is instant...and he does not hold it over our heads. He doesn't want to. It is part of his God-nature. He understands the human nature...having lived with us as one of us. Humans can hold grudges and broken trust is not easily restored. His grace is free and complete.
Galatians 1:15-16 "
God uses who he chooses. With Paul...he loved his passion but he needed him to "trade teams". He needed Paul (formerly Saul) working with him and not against him and his people. Huge trade! Huge win for Team Jesus.
Saul's name changed to Paul...but his past was not erased. God used his mistakes and his history to His glory. A Centurion who didn't want Paul put to death or mistreated pointed out that Paul declared he was a "Roman citizen" with certain rights and stopped a flogging. He was given better treatment while imprisoned. His purchase of a "Roman Citizenship" at a high cost back when he was Saul, God used to protect him in his present suffering.