Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Scoffers and Skeptics

A couple of weeks ago during my morning devotion time with Jesus I read Paul's words to Timothy and found myself musing.

Paul was indeed a real person.

He is responsible for writing much of the New Testament.

His words speak of a man on a mission.  His passion is almost visible on the written page.

This man, once a violent persecutor of Christians, now leading the charge of grace.

In 1 Timothy 1:12 Paul writes, "How thankful I am to Christ Jesus our Lord for considering me trustworthy and appointing me to serve him, even though I used to scoff at the name of Christ.  I hunted down his people, harming them in every way I could.  But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief.  Oh, how kind and gracious the Lord was! He filled me completely with faith and the love of Christ Jesus."

One of my favorite character traits about our brother Paul is his shameless forthrightness.

He does not gloss over his past.
The grievous nature of what he used to be is not somehow painted in a prettier light.


Paul plops the truth out there.

He was awful.
He harmed Christians in every way he could.

With even more eagerness he credits the unmistakable change in his life.
He speaks of mercy as a man tasting it again and again as if for the first time.

As I read his words my focus landed on a few in particular.

Paul said, "I used to scoff at the name of Christ."

I wondered about the exact meaning of that word: scoff.

It means what you probably think it does.  Scoff means to mock, dismiss, ridicule, jeer at, belittle, or make light of something.

Paul was clear with us.

He mocked, ridiculed. jeered at, belittled, dismissed and made light of the name of Jesus Christ.

Can I be completely honest here?

Without ample amounts of the Holy Word of God going into my mind...
Without a constant flow of communication of prayer between Jesus and I....
Without His praise ever on my lips.....
Without a grace filled constitution fixed on faith rather than sight......
Without fresh conviction and repentance....

I WILL and DO SCOFF at the name of Jesus.

My natural tendency is doubt.

You may have noticed that my title to this post also includes skeptics.

A skeptic is a person inclined to doubt the truth.

Yep.  That would be me.

I wonder about the Church.
I wonder about my brothers and sisters out there that faithfully attend church week after week.
I wonder about the ones that don't even bother to come anymore.
I wonder about the ones fighting the good fight of faith.
I wonder about the ones with little fight left.

How many believers of Jesus Christ sit under the weight of silent scoffing and skepticism??

When grace is stale to us~ faith no longer appeals.

When faith no longer appeals to us~ we begin to work to be loved.

And here the cycle of defeat begins.

In the midst of Paul's hideous persecution of believers Jesus loved him with unfathomable love.

In the midst of my scoffing and skepticism I am loved completely.

How quickly we forget that our God is so drawn to weakness.
He waits, ready and willing, to be called upon so that strength and grace can be dispensed.

The scoffing and skeptic nature can only been overcome by the most unnatural of trades.

I hold out my hands in surrender.

I bring him a heart bent on scoffing and skepticism.

He does not retract.  He does not recoil.  He does not refuse.

To my heart riddled with doubt and cynicism, bent on prideful arrogance and a longing to go my own way.......there is an infusion of fresh grace.

And like a soothing salve that binds and heals wounds, my heart receives fully a gift it was always meant to have.

At 9 years old I was saved by grace.

Today at 39 years old...grace still saves the day.