Thursday, April 14, 2011

Walk On

I don't deserve to be included in that inner circle, as you well know, having spent all those early years trying my best to stamp God's church right out of existence. -- I Cor. 15:9
This verse follows a listing by Paul of nearly every Disciple who met or saw the Resurrected Christ.  He lists himself last and then writes this verse about being undeserving.

I have occasionally pondered in my life why exactly Paul was chosen as the sole outsider to be pulled into that inner circle by the Living Christ.  I have always
concluded that it was a meritorious recognition for his passionate pursuit of truth and his personal ability to sacrifice for The Truth that won him the right to be met on the road to Damascus that life-changing day.  Yet, Paul did not see it as a deserving thing at all, and one could reasonably argue that he didn't win reward but a great deal of misery and heartache, what with shipwrecks, itinerant wandering without a home, criticism, and prison.  It is his letters of testimony and his overflowing love for Christ to be properly known and followed in the churches for which we remember Paul, and his years being a treacherous butcher of early Christians is nothing but an incidental footnote in fine print.

When we enter into a depressed space we, too, might see how undeserving we are of grace, of forgiveness, of God's attention.  Most every person of faith has perhaps agonized over the wrongs and sin with which they've lived.  Yet, even in Paul's example of ordering the murder and stoning of very decent Christian people, God was noticing deeper, more useful traits and talents and went out of His way -- FIRST, to send a Son to redeem those acts before they were even performed, and second, to grab Paul by the eyeballs and shake him to see God's sense and purpose.  Most of us on the discipleship journey COULD take pride in the fact that we've come to see God's sense and purpose WITHOUT having to be struck blind to get our attention.

The second part of this is, however, that while God sees value and merit in everyone, tangible rewards cannot be measured, presumed, or expected.  Abundance in a material way, either from increased cash in our bank account or from an easier smooth-flowing life, shouldn't be our plan.  Grace and salvation, discipleship and Christian honor are not trophies to be earned by our meritorious service, they are more like the air we're given for breathing.  We can walk the Christian path because we know grace, love, and life of the Living Christ have been broken and shared.  We walk on simply because He walks on, leading us in the way.  While walking the walk we learn how really great it is to be doing that with Christ, with Paul, with the other Disciples, and all the saints who have gone this way too.  So, walk on People of God, walk on.

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