19 Jul Sermon Snap Shot July 15, 2018
And with this famous Damascus Road story, Saul of Tarsus becomes a believer in the Way. He begins to believe that Jesus of Nazareth is Messiah, that God had raised him from the dead and that he is now, Lord of all. In short order, Saul’s name changes to Paul and he shifts from being one of the leaders trying to destroy the early Church to one of the leaders who gave his life to build up the Church.
Now Paul’s a smart guy, and he knows that there are parts to this story that might seem beyond comprehension. He describes them as “foolish” elsewhere in his writings, and he knows that the idea that the God of all things would allow his son to be killed would be a stumbling block for many. Nevertheless, he shifts his entire focus away from one way of making sense of life and the world…to another, new way of making sense of life and world. And for the rest of his life, he, unashamedly, seeks to share this message with others, to the Jews first and then the Gentiles. He, unashamedly, dedicates his life to extolling the virtues of Jesus of Nazareth…
the one whom he had met on the road to Damascus…
the one through whom God was redeeming the world…
the one who would confirm what God had been trying to teach God’s people all along: it’s not about who we are or what we do, it’s simply about loving and trusting God.
I’ve had these words from Paul’s letter to the Romans on my mind over these last few weeks, and these words have led me to ask myself a number of questions:
Do I spend more time extolling the virtues of Jesus…or do I spend more time denigrating this person or that person whose actions, I believe, are un-Christlike?
Do I spend more time “unashamedly” proclaiming the Gospel…a Gospel that I believe brings life to all who trust in it…or do I devote more time undercutting the false gospels of our day – consumerism, hedonism, xenophobic nationalism and so on?
Simply put, is more of my time and energy being spent elevating someone or something to which I have devoted my life…or is more of my time and energy being spent standing against someone or something?
Surely the Apostle Paul did both. He often stood against the ways that he saw the Gospel being misapplied and misconstrued – go read Paul’s letters to the Galatians and Corinthians again! But he also didn’t allow his opposition and critique to prevent him from also sharing with the world what he was FOR. He didn’t stop proclaiming what he believed to be at the heart of God’s mysterious love and plan: Jesus Christ…and him crucified.
From yesterday’s message based on Romans 1:16-17, “Go and Extol”
Rev. Lane Glaze
Pastor, Waters Edge UMC
Pastor, Waters Edge UMC