Summary: Hatred is a dark, violent, selfish emotion that can destroy the human heart even the best of them. Hatred has a way of taking root within us like no other emotion can. It twists our thinking and speaking until all that spews out of us are dark sentences
Blinded by Hatred, Blinded by Love
Hatred is a dark, violent, selfish emotion that can destroy the human heart even the best of them. Hatred has a way of taking root within us like no other emotion can. It twists our thinking and speaking until all that spews out of us are dark sentences.
It’s hard to believe but God wants to reach people that are just like that. God’s heart aches to reach people just like this and God has given us an example of what happens when He does touch the heart that is full of hate. That example is found in the life of the Apostle Paul.
There is so much to who and what St. Paul is that no single telling can fully reveal the whole man. Today I wish to add my contribution in the hope that you may learn something of St. Paul that you might have missed or overlooked in the past. I have been studying his life and work this past week and I am emotionally exhausted by what I have learned. Again and again I marvel at this man we call St. Paul and how he worked and suffered for the cause of Jesus Christ.
Last week our guest Rev. Greg Girard explained how trials in our life should produce patience and joy. James chapter one says 2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James was telling us that God takes the bitter and turns it sweet. No greater example exists for us than the life of St. Paul.
Beginning in the book of Acts Chapter 8 Paul is a party to murder but here he is not known to us as Paul but Saul the bright young Pharisee trained by Gamaliel. The murder victim is the young disciple Stephen who as he is being stoned prays to God asking that this sin not be charged against his murders. Stephen becomes the first recorded Martyr of the early church.
Saul is young, he comes from a wealthy family and he has risen through the Jewish equivalent of the Dallas Theological Seminary of A.D. 35. He is gifted with an incredible mind for reason and debate which he applies skillfully as he defends the Jewish faith. No one wants to debate or argue with Saul because he can rip you to shreds with his reason, logic and wit. He does not want to wound you intellectually he wants to destroy you.
Saul arrives at the perfect place in history as the chief defender for the Jewish faith which is dealing with a new and to them a blasphemous sect called The Way. It is the infancy of the early Christian church and Saul borrows a page from King Herod and realizes that he must exterminate the new faith or the Jewish priestly class and its amassed authority will be deposed.
Saul is filled not with fear by this new faith, not with disgust or intolerance but with pure hate. You see Saul is a Pharisee amongst Pharisee’s he is “The” role model of a purely legalistic, autocratic, judgmental and antiquated religious system. A system that Jesus came to change and replace with a new covenant of Love.
Saul is full of self righteousness since he fully believes he is as perfect as a man can be under the Mosaic covenant. It is this full blown self righteousness and his grasp and use of the law that causes all around him to mind their place. It is also the force that has propelled him to high standing within the members of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish High Theological court.
He is for all intensive purposes the right man for the right job. That job is to wipe out the followers of the Nazarene. It is with this purpose and mind set that he sets out across the country side seeking to imprison, destroy and kill everyone he can find who is a follower of Jesus the one they call the Christ.
Pastor Greg Nance from Signal Mountain Church of Christ Tennessee put it this way:(Sermon Central.Com)
” Saul hated Jesus. He saw him as a blasphemer and false prophet. With his type “A” personality, he took up the cause of wiping this new movement out! In fact, it appears to have become almost an obsession. Listen to what the scriptures say in Acts:
8:1 And Saul was there, giving approval to his death. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.
2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him.