I don't know Paul, there are days where I feel I am the worst of sinners!
Paul, the Apostle, wrote a peculiar statement in a letter to one of his young apprentices. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul makes this statement:
"It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all." (1 Timothy 1:15 NASB)
Paul declares himself to be the worst of everyone who has ever offended God. What did he do, well he harassed and had imprisoned those who were followers of Christ. He approved and watched while Stephen (an deacon of the church of Jerusalem) was stoned to death for preaching Jesus. This is the same Paul that made it his mission to destroy Christianity out of his deep obligation to God through Judaism. He was not a kind man, but yet he probably felt justified because he did this out of his devotion to God(sometimes our best intentions can be very sinful). Yet, when Paul(who's name was Saul at the time) traveled to Damascus to capture and hurt many more Christians, Jesus met him and transformed him. Paul, through the work of the Holy Spirit, met God and repented from his false zeal. That's probably why God changed His name from Saul to Paul, to show the transformation from a man who's religious zeal caused him to sin into a man who's purpose was now to Know God and Make God Known. Paul did some pretty awful things, but were these the worst things in history?
How about Nero hanging Christians on trees and lighting them on fire after he lied about the fires set in Rome? How about Hitler who killed millions of Jews to eradicate this people group from the earth? How about Osama Bin Laden, who made it his mission to kill anyone that did not agree with his views (both Russia and America has felt his wrath)? These men seemed to do worse things than Paul. How about me, who though has been brought into the Light of Jesus, still struggles with sin? I know what I have done and the filth that lies underneath those actions. Paul how can you say "you are the worst of all of us"?
Paul can say that because Paul is more aware of his sin than anyone else. Paul has done a self examination and found himself to be guilty. Paul felt he was the worst of us because he knew his sin more than anyone else's. This is a place where God constantly brings me to. When I become judgmental and harsh toward others, I have walked away from my recognition of who I was before Christ and what I am still capable of. Which brings me to proclaim "I am the worst" because I know my sin. Grace causes me to do a self evaluation every time I receive it. Why? because Grace is unearned and is given to those who have utterly destroyed themselves with sin. Grace is only seen as Grace when it is held against the truth of my sin. I know what I have done and I know what I deserve. Yet God gives me more of Himself every time I blow it.
Yesterday was one of those days. I was beginning to get irritated with the media coverage of Bruce Jenner's sexual change to being now Caitlyn Jenner. Was I bothered by ESPN giving him/her the Arthur Ash award? Yes I was because there seem to be many others who sacrificed more. However, while reading an article by Marty Duren, God revealed to me my wrongful bias and how I am missing the struggle within Jenner (http://wapo.st/1KEIVBk). The same Grace that saved me and sustains me is offered to anyone who was created by God. Do I agree with Jenner? No, but I also don't know what Jenner's struggles really do to him/her (the reason why I continue to write it this way is to show how God create Bruce but also recognize that Caitlyn is real). I don't know what Jenner is struggling with, but I know what I am struggling with. My hope is that Jenner finds the same hope that I have found and His name is Jesus Christ. Only in that hope will both Jenner and I find peace and truly find eternal life!
I am sorry for those of you who allow me in your life and who do not share my faith. I am sorry that I have had a bias and sometimes carelessly share things on Facebook or twitter, all in the name of truth and religious zeal. I hope you know that Jesus Christ is the only way to God and that He has lived the life that you and I need. Know that God is changing my views and helping me to live within His Grace so that others around me will taste His Grace through my life. Your sin isn't any worse than mine because I know my sin thoroughly. Today, I feel I have been the worst of us. Please forgive me an I hope that God will use me to bring you into eternal life, a true intimate relationship with Him!