6/10/18 – Paul: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Posted on : Jun 7th, 2018 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

This Sunday we begin our new summer series: “Paul: The good, the bad and the ugly.”

It may seem strange to begin this series on the Sunday when we celebrate LGBTQ Pride, in that two of the infamous “clobber texts” from the New Testament which have been used to condemn LGBT people, Romans 1 and I Corinthians 6, were written by none other than Paul himself.  But that is exactly why I’m beginning this series on Pride Sunday!

Paul was the second generation of followers of the Risen Christ.  He never met Jesus or served as a disciple with Jesus, and in fact, he was a guy with quite a history – and not all good at that.  If I had been on the committee that decided which books would be included in the Bible, I would never have given Paul as much print space as he got!  But, some of Paul’s writings and teachings are good, just as some are bad, and some are downright ugly.

In the next six weeks we’ll look at three of the best teachings of Paul, one bad and two really ugly.  This Sunday we begin with Paul’s “conversion,” followed by “All things work together for good,” and then, “Together we are the body of Christ.”  Then we’ll look at Paul’s admonition that “Wives should be submissive to their husbands,” and then two downright ugly texts in which Paul supports slavery and condemns homosexuality.

So, this Sunday we begin with the story of Paul’s conversion.  Actually, if you read the scripture below, you will note that Paul’s birth name is “Saul.”

As this story begins, Saul is one mean, miserable, horrible person.  He took great joy in terrorizing and persecuting Christians (followers of “the Way”).  One day while traveling the road to Damascus, on one of his extortion campaigns, Paul had a spiritual encounter with the Risen Christ that changed his life forever.  Today we would say Paul had a moment of enlightenment or transformation.  For me, the good in this story is that it witnesses to the transformational power of our faith in Christ to change even the worst in us.  Heck, if Christ can change Saul/Paul, there’s certainly hope for the rest of us!  It’s for just that reason that I chose to begin this series on LGBT Pride Sunday.  As followers of the Way of Christ, there is always hope that hate and fear will be transformed into love and respect for all people!  More on Sunday.

Blessings,

Dan

Acts 9: 1-19

The Apostle Paul (aka: Saul) has a life transforming experience on the Road to Damascus

But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Risen Christ, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as Saul journeyed he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed about him. And Saul fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” And Saul said, “Who are you?” And the voice said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting; but rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with Saul stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul arose from the ground; and when his eyes were opened, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days Saul was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Anani′as. The Risen Christ said to him in a vision, “Anani′as.” And Anani′as said, “Here I am.” And Jesus said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for a man of Tarsus named Saul; for behold, he is praying, and he has seen a man named Anani′as come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Anani′as answered, “I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to the saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon Your name.” But Jesus said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and Royalty and the chidlren of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Anani′as departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Risen Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized, and took food and was strengthened.

For several days he was with the disciples at Damascus.

 

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