Sometimes people say to me, “God wouldn’t want me.”
I ask them if they have killed Christians.
So far, no one has.
(Except by the measure of Jesus who indicated that if you hate, that’s like murder. With that measure, many people who identify as some version of Christian and talk on social media or gossip about friends or read stories and say, “Who in their right mind would support him (or her or that)” would fall into the “deprive people of the value God gave them and do or desire damage to them” understanding of killing. So, I guess most of us.)
But even if they had, I would still point to Paul.
Paul called himself the worst. The chiefest. The most likely to succeed in the hierarchy of sinners. He was, in his own words, “a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man.”
And was shown mercy.
At that moment of mercy, he wasn’t given a standing ovation, of course. He was stopped. And sent into exile with God (and by God). And the rest of his life was not easy.
But he saw God and talked to God and, for all the beatings and imprisonments and betrayals and frustrations than followed that moment, he remembered most that moment when God loved Paul enough to stop him and acknowledge him by name (Saul at that moment) and forgive the violence against God, and invite him to come in.
It’s an open invitation. Even to people who hate, like Paul did. But, we can stop hating, like Paul did.
(And I know. There’s bunch of “but what about” that will come to mind as you read this. It does as I write this. And yet, at this moment, there are one or two people thinking, “Wait. God knows my name? Really?” Yes. Really.)