But when he who had set me apart before
I was born, and who called me by his grace,
First Century A.D.
The birth of a child usually brings great joy and many expectations of fulfillment and happiness. I am confident that Saul’s parents expected much the same as any Jewish family of the first century. Surely they were pleased as they watched their son climb the corporate ladder of Judaism. Perhaps they cheered him on as he endeavored to wipe out those Christians of the Way.
Never in their wildest dreams could any of them have imagined that Saul would encounter the mind-blowing presence and power of the Almighty God in the form of a face to face meeting with Jesus, and that what would follow would forever change the complexity of life for both Christians and Jews.
How could Saul the Christian hater, the persecutor, the one who approved the stoning of Stephen (Acts 8:1) ever be considered usable for the purpose of God’s Kingdom? But in stepped God’s grace and Saul became Paul. The persecutor became the persecuted. The trusted Jew became one of those Christians of the Way. Called by God’s grace, he became an obedient follower, servant and leader, and his life shook the world.
21st Century A.D.
Look around! They are everywhere—those people who appear unusable for God, who do not meet our test for salvation possibility, who we believe need to clean up before coming to Jesus. Some of them smell bad. Some of them look as if they just stepped off a horror movie set. Some of them constantly appear dazed. They take God’s name in vain. We might even cross the street to keep from getting too close to them. At the very least we turn our faces from theirs.
Then there are those we think might make perfect candidates for Christianity. Rich! Powerful! Beautiful! Intelligent! Morally sound! God could really use them in His service.
Some seated beside us in the pew week after week—Sunday after Sunday, have never answered yes to God’s gift of salvation. Perhaps we neglect them most of all. They look like us, act like us, talk like us…they must be one of us! Christian!
Revelation 22:17 says, “The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And “let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”
The call of God’s grace is freely extended to all. It is for me, for you, for the drug addict and the alcoholic—for the sex offender—for the murderer— for the rapist—for the friendless—for the homeless—for the penniless—and for those who appear to have it all together.
But how will they know, unless we go and tell them that they too are called by God’s grace?