SAUL TO PAUL
Nothing is more life-giving than the un-adulterated, unencumbered Jesus as our life. The One who invites us to share His life and light also invites us to share His rest. ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest’ Matt 11.28 NIV. Jesus offers us relief from the weight of sin and guilt and freedom from the burden of lifeless behaviors and icons that contain no life. Jesus delivers people from sacralised humbug.
Jesus Himself is with you and in you. In you He is your life and in Him you are alive as a son/daughter of God. In Him we are able to see His glory and grow steadily into our own.
A distorted view of God will condition us to act in crippled ways. A false conception of Christ and His gospel will cause us to ignore, resist and be blind to the genuine Christ and the pure gospel of the Kingdom. God can never be known through the law – only through Jesus Christ and at that through the Christ of God. Not through lesser christs who props up the law and other gospels. Religion is the culture of the self, writ large. This was the prize offered – a narcistic way to ‘be as gods’. We know how that turned out.
Unless we can embrace what is already ours – union with God we will produce droplets of moisture when we have access to rivers of living water.
DISCERNING THE PATH OF LIFE
"What do you want me to do for you?" "Lord, I want to see," he replied’ Luke 18.41 NIV.
Saul of Tarsus was passionately for God. But he lived from a concept of God that was far from Father’s nature. He thought he was enlightened and doubtless there were aspects of his life that bore some fruit. Saul became blind before he could see. This was a parable of humanity and of himself. His old beliefs were blindness and the new way would become wisdom and revelation. Jeff Turner writes,
“It was Paul’s ignorance and unbelief that caused him to do the evil things that he did. Like his religious brethren, he had inherited a mythological portrait of a God who was a tyrannical dictator who stomped out and smothered everything he saw as being a threat to his being worshipped and glorified. Therefore, new and unheard of belief systems, like Christianity, equalled threats to his god’s honour and so he required Paul’s violence in order to rid the earth of such sects. Paul’s mind had become corrupted, and his religion twisted. His false knowledge of God spawned a zeal within him that moved him to do the unthinkable.” (1)
Not all in in Saul’s position resort to violence. Many resist freedom for themselves and others. They chain themselves to fictions that sieve out the fullness of the gospel and the supremacy of Jesus as our life. By their example they serve as blind leaders to blind people who find a miserable comfort in their un-gospel and their false christ. But “The awesome love of our invisible God has become both visible and audible in Jesus Christ, the glory of the only Son filled with enduring love.” Brennan Manning (1934 2013) . When Christ Himself becomes our life – Christ plus nothing - we become the visible representative of Jesus, Holy Spirit and our Father.
The man who chained people up became the apostle who set people free. Paul became the great Explainer of Christ’s gospel of the Kingdom. He became a living expositor of Christ his life. There are none so bound that they cannot be set free. None so blind that they cannot become bearers of intense and living light.
(1) Turner, Jeff. Saints in the Arms of a Happy God: Recovering the Image of God and Man (p. 26). Jeff Turner. Kindle Edition.