This chapter is basically a retelling
of Paul’s miraculous conversion that we see earlier in Scripture. As
I was reading and re-reading Acts 22, a few verses stood out to me
over and over.
First, Paul makes it very clear to his listeners in verse 3 that he was one of them. “I am a Jew, born and raised in the city of Tarsus.” (CEV)
Next, “I made trouble for everyone who followed the Lord’s way, and I even had some of them killed. I had others arrested and put in jail. I didn’t care if they were men or women.” -Acts 22:4 (CEV)
Now, when Paul (then Saul) was persecuting the Jews I’m thinking he thought he was doing the “right” thing by having Christians arrested and executed. He says so in v. 3, “In fact, I was as eager to obey God as any of you are today.” Another translation says it better, “I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today.” (NIV) Verse 5 even tells us that Saul was, “…armed with official documents authorizing me to hunt down the followers of Jesus.” (The Message)
So, all of that got me thinking, how many times do we as Christians, “make trouble” for others, imprison folks (whether they are Christians or unbelievers) while armed with our “official document” (the Word)? Then I had another thought that makes me shudder……how many people have been so turned off by my know-it-all presentation of the Gospel and my judgmental-of-others representation of Jesus that they went to their
deaths never knowing Him?
Since my family and I are new to Canvas, then you may not know that Andy and I spent most of our lives in a very legalistic kind of church. Many well-intentioned men and women in their eagerness to do the “right” thing used their “official document” to enslave me in a life of rules that after 20+ years brought me more misery than anything. They used Scriptures that, when written, were directed towards a certain group of people in
society and Scripture that existed under the old law. I had regulation length hair, skirts, etc., etc., but had I stayed there I am quite certain I would have eventually given up completely and who knows where I would stand with God today. This group of people is very judgmental (isn’t “judge not or you will be judged” also in the same Bible as the Scriptures they twisted and turned to keep their congregation in line? Yes, it is!) and if you didn’t follow their “truth” then you were hell-bound.
Needless to say after so many years of mind-control via man’s incorrect interpretation of Scripture, I’m very touchy when it comes to Scripture being misrepresented in order to convey one’s personal feelings on a subject. That brings us to my favorite website in the whole world….Facebook!
I was recently involved in a discussion on FB regarding tattoos. Now, I do not have tattoos but it’s mainly because I’m a wimp and try to avoid pain whenever possible not because I think they are wrong. The original post about the subject was written by a Christian and she was quoting Scripture from her “official document” that tattooing is a sin and it’s something that “Christians just don’t do.” Huh? I know many Christians who are tattooed (my pastor being one of them) and this chick is saying that they are living in sin?
I decided to respond. I reminded her that we are no longer bound by the old law and that if you keep part of the law, then you become enslaved to the whole law. Paul says it like this, “If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses.” (Gal. 5:2-3 NLT) So, if I’m understanding Paul correctly, we cannot pick and choose what parts of the law we want to abide by (or use to judge and condemn others) while tossing out the rest. If we point our judgmental fingers at those who are tattooed (and I only used tattoos as an illustration…it could be anything from a dress code to make-up to hair length) then, according to the same law, if we get up on Sunday and then do most any kind of work we could be put to death. (Ex. 31:15) YIKES! I prefer this Scripture, “…He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.” (Col. 2:13-14 NIV)
So, I said all that to say this…as followers of Jesus we are to be His hands and feet; not His eyes and ears. We are to love and to serve; not to condemn and judge. We are to present the Gospel in a REAL and relevant way; not to pretend like we’ve got it all together and put on an air of “perfection.” We need to remember that when God looks at you, He doesn’t see tattoos, whether or not you’ve had a meeting with Miss Clairol, or what you are wearing. Those are the superficial things that man looks at (1 Sam 16:7). When God looks at you, He sees His son or daughter (Gal 3:26) a beloved, beautiful, precious child that He loves. He sees a joint heir with Christ (Rom.8:17). He sees your faith (Matt. 9:2) and He sees your heart (1 Sam.16:7).
Now, why don’t we do our absolute best to not major on the minors and try to see everyone as God sees them. Let’s not use His precious Word as bookchocked full of rules and regulations but let’s use it for what itis……a love letter to us from Him.