Wednesday, January 27, 2010

tender mercies

The Bible Lesson this week, Love, continues to explore the seven synonyms Mrs. Eddy gives us for God. Thinking of God as Love expands our view of Him to include what we usually think of as feminine qualities. In Christian Science we think of God as our Father and Mother. In the new supplement to our hymnal is a hymn entitled Tender Mercies. The theme of God's tender mercies and loving kindnesses runs all through the Lesson.

We look at Paul this week. He was called Saul before his conversion and he was an avid hunter and persecutor of those who believed that Jesus was the Son of God and the Messiah. These followers of the Christ, or Christians, needed to be rounded up and punished and Saul was on his way to Damascus to get authorization from the High Priest to do just that. In his zeal, he was filled with threats of slaughter, going after men and women. The things people do in the name of religion. This was his highest sense of right at the time and he was determined to see them all killed.

Yet, he had stood by at the trial of Stephen and listened to him speak of this Saviour, the healings he had done and how he was the fulfillment of prophecy. Stephen's words angered the mob who stoned him to death, with Saul standing by. Stephen died with his eyes on heaven. All this made an impression on Saul and he must have thought about it deeply on his way to Damascus for suddenly a light shone around him. The light of Truth surrounded him and he heard a voice. It was the very man Stephen had spoken of, Jesus. Saul dropped to his knees in astonishment. He didn't doubt who this was and he calls him Lord, asking what it is he is to do. Have you ever railed against God, against the circumstances that are making your life dificult? How would you react if suddenly the Christ appeared to you? Wouldn't you instantly know who it was and bow before him? Saul had the humility to ask Jesus 'what would you have me to do?'. Would you be willing to just ask 'Lord, what would you have me to do?'.

He is told to go on to Damascus and await instructions. He who was on his way there to arrest and persecute Christians is about to become one himself. He takes on a new name, Paul, to mark this momentous thing that has happened. He is leaving behind all that he was before that moment and beginning again. He is to have a new mission although he does not yet know what that is. He is physically and spiritually unable to 'see'. Blinded, he must be led to Damascus.

What Saul/Paul was going through was a complete transformation as he changed his mind about Jesus and Christianity. He was going to surrender his own wilful plans and listen for the will of God. His motives and acts would now come from a whole new basis.

What happened next? The story begins in Acts 8. If you aren't familiar with it, take some time to read it. Tomorrow we'll continue on to see how the blindness was removed and what Paul is told to do. This is just one of the stories in the Bible about God's great love for each of His children, His tender mercies. He has this great love for you as well and can be just as powerful a force in your life. Everything can change.

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