Galatians 1:18 – 2:2
“Then, after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles, only James, the Lord’s brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. Later, I went to Syria and Cilicia. I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they praised God because of me.
Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gosepl that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain.”
First of all, a confession. I don’t have the second half of the passage memorized yet this week. I’ve just forgotten. In some ways, I see how quickly the devil can gain a foothold because I felt a little discouraged, that I would struggle to catch up…so why continue?
What? I mean, we’re talking two verses here, and I’m feeling so behind that I can’t catch up? I still have two days. A verse a day wouldn’t be hard. But that’s where I am. I’ll share a thought about the passage that I have pondered a little, but please don’t think I’ve meditated on it all this week. The positive side of it is that I’m sad about it. I’m sad that I’ve missed out on meditating on a Scripture passage this week. I know that I’ve lost a week of time that I could’ve been growing closer to God that I won’t get back. Don’t worry, I’m not discouraged. Quite the opposite, I’m motivated. I don’t want to miss another week…another day…even another hour. For that, I’m excited. Excited about what the next two days will hold as I meditate on this passage. Anxious for next week’s passage and what lesson He might have for me there. That’s the joy of truly being in the Scripture, isn’t it? Waiting expectantly for what He wants to teach me, how He wants to grow me. I can’t wait.
As for this passage, what struck me was a comment my friend Beth made during our Bible study. Do you think you could praise God for someone who formerly persecuted you who was now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy? I think I’d have a hard time. If Osama Bin Laden suddenly became a Christian and began sharing the Gospel, would I rejoice? I’d have a hard time with that. I’d still want him to suffer for what he had done. I wouldn’t really want his sins to be forgiven and to spend eternity with him by my side in heaven. Mother Theresa? yes. Billy Graham? yes. Bono? yes. Osama Bin Laden? Nope, not really.
But Jesus came to die for our sins, period. Not for certain sins – the nice ones, the ones that aren’t so bad. All sins. Any sins. Sin is sin. It’s what separates us from God, even the so-called small ones. Luke says “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (Luke 15:7, NIV). Paul needed Jesus. I need Jesus. Osama needs Jesus. And when a sinner repents, I want to join in the celebration.
PS – My friend Bekah, has a somewhat related post over at Xanga on forgiveness.