16: 50 Days Freed

There are those around us in bondage to sin who feel that what they have done forfeits any chance of redemption. Freedom is a dream that is for the righteous and you could imagine what they have done. How could God even look their way? They let this eat them up and fester to the point of bitterness, becoming a way of living, angry at God for His double standard which doesn’t exist created by them to ease the guilt of what they have done.
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 1 Timothy 1:12-16
Paul, formerly Saul, was in every modern term a radical extremist. Before his acceptance of Christ, Saul hunted believers with the intent of stoning them if they would not recant their newfound faith. Judge, jury and executioner, he was ready at all cost to wipe out this new belief system that was changing the way people experienced God. I am sure if you had the ability to talk to any believers back then they would know who Saul of Tarsus was. Saul was locked in his bondage of sin and religious dogma, he had been brought up with the law being the only thing he knew.
One day unlike any other for Saul, he was heading to Damascus to seek and confront believers there. What happened on that journey can only be described as divine intervention. Jesus himself met Saul on the road and gave him an ultimatum. But the choice He gave Saul was one to one to discover who He really is. Jesus didn’t provide a choose me or die approach. He simply asked Saul ‘why are you killing my family’. Saul then asked Him who he was in which Jesus told him ‘go into the city and I’ll show you’. Then to drive the point home so Saul wouldn’t dismiss this as a daydream, Jesus struck him blind. This made Saul realize that he must then rely on this Jesus if he ever wanted to see again. Was this a trick of Jesus to coheres Saul to accept him? I don’t think so, it was more of a way for Saul to realize how truly blind he was to what he was doing and what he was missing out of.
Summing it up Saul meets a believer who Jesus had prepared for Saul’s visit. Although scared that Saul might arrest him he obeys none the less. Saul is healed and receives the freedom that Jesus offered, changing his name to Paul as an outward sign of his change. Paul knew he didn’t deserve the love of Jesus. His action towards believers could be what some call unforgivable sins. But Jesus doesn’t have a list of sins that He doesn’t forgive. He doesn’t have a list of unforgiveable people. No matter what we have done we have a loving God who sent His Son to give us grace.
Today are you living a life where you feel that Jesus could never forgive you for what you have done? Paul described himself as beyond redemption, yet Jesus met him where he was on his journey and showed him grace. You may be on your journey, doing things that are separating you from God. Jesus wants to meet you on the road and show you who He is. He may not be audible like He was with Saul, yet He may be speaking through someone who is inviting you to join them at church or ALPHA. You may think those moments are odd and irrelevant, but they are moments where Jesus is asking you ‘why are you running from me?’. He loves you, even if you don’t love Him. He died so that you can experience freedom in Him. You don’t have to live this life any longer in bondage to the sin that will lead you to an eternity separated from God. Will you take some time today to pray ‘Okay Jesus, show me yourself’?
Father, if we want to experience freedom we must accept the sacrifice Jesus made for us. I pray for those who feel that what they have done cannot be redeemed. I pray that hey will come to the moment where you show them that your love is bigger than their sin. Meet them right where they are at. Send someone into their lives to be a witness of Jesus love to them, let them see you for who you are even today. Use your children to share your love with all who need freedom. Amen