If you could have been born in another time and place, where might it be?
I appreciate history (Moses and the Hebrews leaving Egypt, David and Goliath), the story of St. Patrick, How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill, the birth of America, John Wesley, the Student Volunteer Movement, Lewis and Clark, the building of the transcontinental railroad in America, the Great Depressions stories of boxer Jim Braddock and the racehorse, Seabiscuit, the Wright Brothers, World War 2 stories about men like Louis Zamperini (who survived being a prisoner of war) and Norman Jack “Dusty” Kleiss, a decorated Navy dive-bomber. What about the era of civil rights in America in the 1950’s and 1960’s?
Have you ever found yourself thinking, “Wouldn’t it be great to have lived in the time of Jesus and the launch of the first century church?” Could you imagine being around and hearing about the salvation of Saul of Tarsus, who changed to his Roman name of Paul, after being transformed by meeting, accepting, and surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus? Paul was a persecutor of the church of Jesus, then became a preacher and missionary of the church of Jesus. All because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, and the sending and receiving of the Holy Spirit. Saul met Jesus and Saul had a personal transformation.
Can you imagine being there to see that story unfold? Could you handle the excitement of it?
Read 1 Timothy 1:8-9.
It would be exciting but sad and demoralizing, too. It started with the disciples deserting Jesus, him being arrested, tortured, and crucified. If you or I were there, we would have probably left Jesus too, knowing how feeble and fickle we are. As Jesus healed a sick person, would we have reacted like a Pharisee and say that was wrong, or would we rejoice in grateful appreciation for God’s power being released among the poor and hurting?
As Jesus lugged his wooden cross on bruised and bloody shoulders down a dusty road to the hill called Golgotha, awaiting his own death, what would we be doing? Shouting curses at him or weeping as a broken and confused disciple?
As Jesus’ cross is being raised amidst two deserving thieves, would we cast lots for his clothing, or fall down in grief due to a terrible injustice? After Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, would we be among the 120 gathered in an upper room, believing Him to be who He said He was? Or would we find ourselves among the many who followed Him for a while, but ultimately found the cost of the discipleship He presented too tough for us?
As we met Jesus after His resurrection, would we have been like Saul – antagonistic at first, arrogant in our thinking, aggressive in our worldview, comfortable in our own skin, low living, and self-preoccupied lifestyle? Or would we have been like Paul, saved by a dramatic encounter with Jesus? Paul later wrote to the Ephesian Christians (1:4) that by God’s grace, He chose him to be His child. Paul wrote in all of his New Testament letters that his salvation (and ours) is not about what we’ve done. It is just an undeniable and understandable response to gracious love.
Walk wisely. Salvation is all gift and grace.
Love is a verb,
©2019 by Mike Olejarz