Saturday, August 05, 2006

God's Mercy

"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.

This is a true saying, and everyone should believe it: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - and I was the worst of them all. But that is why God had mercy on me, so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. Glory and honor to God forever and ever. He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen."
- 1 Timothy 1:12-17

God's mercy is amazing. He purposely looked for someone who was ignorant and unbelieving and had mercy on them in order to show the world his patience with the worst sinners. And who was this terrible person? It was Saul, the pharisee. The one who believed in God, but did not believe in Christ.

Just this past week I received an email from a friend that contained pictures (supposedly) of an Iranian man holding an eight year old boy's arm down, as a car runs over and crushes it. The email explained that the boy had stolen from the marketplace and this was the punishment he would receive. I was horrified and angry. I have an eight year old daughter and I can't imagine that happening to her. If that's the way those Iranian people think and act, someone should go rescue those kids and obliterate the rest. Honestly, I would have no problem with that.

But, today, as I read this passage, I wonder what God's perspective is. Let's assume that the story and pictures are true. Were those people punishing the child with such extreme measures because they believed God would want them to? To teach the child stealing is wrong and God would rather have the child with a crushed arm than to lose his soul? If crushing his arm would cause him never to steal again, is that such a bad thing?

Before you start freaking out, know that I'm cringing asking these questions. Keep following me...

From God's perspective, he sees people who are ignorant and unbelieving. They are very religious, but they reject Christ. It is in their hearts to do "good" for God, but in their pursuit to do good, they do evil instead, harming people in every way they can.

Now, I wonder if somewhere in Iran God has chosen the worst sinner and shown mercy on him. If he has, it has not become a mainstream story yet. But, after reading these verses, I am more inspired to pray for that possibility.

Here's my last thought on this for now. Is it possible that God is more likely to show mercy to those who are ignorant and unbelieving than He is to those in the fold who persecute the children of God? If that is the case, then I would stay clear of anything that would harm another Christian or tear him down.


Katie Bailey said...

hey, thanks again for your comments; i think you may be the only person reading my blog :)
when i was raising my support to come here i used the first part of that verse on all my publications. i love it because sometimes i really could not believe that He would "count me faithful, putting me in the ministry." i left out the stuff about scoffing His name and hunting people down to harm them because it's not as pretty sounding when you are trying to raise money, but as i read your post i remember the times in my preperation that i really was honored and amazed that God had decided to use me. there are times when i KNOW i am not worthy of His call on my life and i am so thankful for His amazing grace!
have a blessed day!

Kathy said...

John, you eamiled me on ex gay blog!

This site may be of help to you

JimmyBob said...

Katie, I know exactly how you feel. We're praying for you as you serve Christ on the mission field. Does your mom, dad or brother use the computer? Maybe they could join the discussion. I would love to include them.

Oh, by the way. Pray for Kathy and I as we begin a new Young Adult ministry starting September 3rd. It will be for 18-29 year olds and will take place on Sunday mornings at 10:45am in the Fellowship Hall. We're gonna sit around tables to get to know one another and also have open discussion, rather than lecture. I'm thinking about using some videos from NOOMA. Have you heard of them? Someone will be appointed as the Event Coordinator and will be responsible for setting up an activity once a month. It could be a movie, sporting event, concert, retreat, whatever. The point will be to build the group up and allow relationships to strengthen.

Thanks for being here.

JimmyBob said...

Kathy, thanks for the recommends. God bless you! I'll have to check out your story. Looking forward to that.

By the way, my name is James. But, many people accidentally call me John. No problem!

michigan preacher said...

Hey, James, thanks for posting this. It is amazing how God can take a murderous Saul and turn him into a godly, loving Paul, or how God can take a deceiving Jacob and make him a prince of God. God's mercy is so awesome!