Christians are often asked, “What’s your favorite book of the Bible?” and “Which Biblical person(s) do you most identify with?” as if this was ever an easy decision! Growing up, the answers to these two questions changed depicted how I felt/who had the super dope story. When I felt abandoned, it was Job; when I was understanding worship, it was David; when I wanted to be fearless, it was Daniel; when I wanted to be used, it was Samuel; when I felt unworthy to be used because of ways I’ve denied Christ, it was Peter. Those weren’t necessarily “bad” reasons. They were very true for me at that time in life. However, I am firm in my current choices.
Favorite Book: Acts. Seriously, read Luke then Acts (Biblical scholars believe these books were written back to back and it actually reads much better this way). It’ll change how you see Christ life, His mission and His call for us to step up and live out grace, so others can experience the fullness of joy. Acts is amazing for so many reasons. First, we see the Holy Spirit descend upon the early Christians (Acts 2) and they are given abilities to speak in every language (don’t confuse this with speaking in tongues aka Heavenly language); they literally were speaking French, Italian, Spanish, Mandarin, etc. It is clear this was a foreshadow of Christ revealing that the Gospel as for all nations, all people, using every language. We also see the first matyr, Stephen, who was stoned to death for believing in Christ. Could you believe his last words were, “Lord, receive my Spirit…[and] do not hold this sin against them”(Acts 7).
Moreover, I love this book because we learn about Paul, my favorite person. Paul represents boldness like I’ve never seen before. He is the epitome of instant transformation (Acts 8). When I used to think of Paul, I used to imagine him with fine robes, a great orator and a well-groomed man. Actually…not the case. He was beaten (numerous times), stoned so bad they thought he was dead, and imprisoned A LOT. In fact, in 1 Corinthians, he self-describes his situation: “To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless.” This is the Paul I love reading about because it shows the boldness and selflessness of his life. Think about it, if a person is willing to go through all of that just so you and I can hear about life and freedom in Christ, wouldn’t you want to hear them out.
Anyway, this is the message that I wanted to emphasize. This week while reading through Paul’s letters, a startling question arose:
Lord, if Peter and the other disciples were already the main characters and followers who walked, lived and ate with you, why not use them exclusively? Why Paul?
Think about it, Paul enters the scene as Saul, who wasn’t a believer. He was actively trying to have them killed, yet God said…”I want Him.” What does this mean for our lives. I used to go through life questioning why God wanted to use me to sing, write, worship, etc. when there were “more qualified, more experienced people.” I couldn’t wrap my head around being chosen because I didn’t have the qualifications. I would compare myself like crazy, which automatically led to me writing myself off. Then I was reminded of Romans 8:30, “And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”
Challenge for those questioning your purpose: Stop moping around asking, “why me?” You can’t be used if you don’t understand that the gifts and abilities you have are not of yourself, but from God. Know that God doesn’t call the qualified, but qualifies the called. Believe it or not, when Paul first came to see the disciples, they were scared of him. Paul must’ve been that bad of a brotha to have the disciples questioning his presence. At one point you may have been like Paul – actively fighting against God’s plan. Let him use you.
Challenge for Christian leaders: Stop writing off the Sauls of this world. If you only focus on what folks are not doing, rather than genuinely getting to know people and seeing the Christ in them, you’ll never have the eyes of God. You can’t live like Christ without having the compassion he had. So, take it easy! If we are being honest, I believe some of our Christian leaders were blinded this past election because we forgot how to live through grace. We used religion to validate why we “had” to write off those that are different than us. Cues eye roll. We ain’t all that and a bag of chips. Serving must be rooted in humility. Without humility, our pride makes us forgetful and we begin to look down on people. As a result, we get scared of the Sauls. We write them off. We disassociate ourselves from them. Yet when God changes their heart, we wonder why they don’t feel comfortable talking to us, joining our churches, and attending our small groups. How you treat people while they are lost has a great impact on where they go when they are found.