Home Service for Sunday 18th July 2021

‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked.
“ ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. (Acts 22:8)

Please read Acts 22:6-21 and Acts 9

I am Saul
I am Paul

I am passionate about my faith
I am passionate about my faith

I will work tirelessly for what I believe in
and I recognize that may hurt others
in order to keep the faith
I will work tirelessly for my beliefs too
and I also recognize that doing so can hurt others
but living the faith is never going to be easy

I have made a choice to put myself on the line for my faith
and if those who are out to destroy the faith get in the way,
then I will move them out the way
I have made a choice to put myself on the line for my faith
and will continue to do so
even in the face of those who want to move me out the way

I am Saul
I am Paul

Faith is everything to me.
It must be kept true at all costs.
It is too vital to my culture,
my traditions and how I understand life

Faith is everything to me.
It must stand true at all costs.
It is too vital for the Good News
for traditions and culture to stand in the way
of this new understanding of life

I will seek out those who destroy the faith
I will seek out those who limit the faith

I will keep our borders pure
and our traditions clean from contamination
I will cross every border
and welcome in Jew and Gentile, slave and free

I am Saul
I am Paul

I will work for the authorities
I will work for Jesus Christ

I will hold tight to the church
I will break open the church

I will keep the faith pure
I will keep the faith growing

I will be the death of Christianity
And I will be its life

I am Saul
I am Paul

Am I guilty of being religiously zealous instead of being faithfully Christ-like? Have I allowed my pride to cloud my compassion?

Am I following Christ’s path or my own?

Saul was a fanatic! He fervently wanted to serve God fully by getting rid of any threats or imposters who were damaging his faith. He mercilessly hunted down Christians, to make them pay for their crimes against God and his chosen people. He was well known for killing Christian leaders. his eagerness knew no compassion; his boldness knew no bounds; his fanatic faith was vehemently unleashed.

Then Jesus intervened. And his life changed forever – including his name!

On a dusty road to an out of the way place the Lord tackled Saul and rebuked him for persecuting Christ Himself. Whatever Saul thought he was doing faithfully for God, he was actually doing for himself and attacking Jesus personally. Saul’s self-righteousness rejected any self-awareness that he was wrong, and his pride completely cloaked his sin. Instead of being on God’s side, Saul was actually separating himself from God by zealously attacking his enemies and expressing his faith in ferocious ways. Jesus showed him the truth and turned him away from the self-destructive path he was headed down.

Saul’s salvation required him to surrender his pride; his deliverance needed him to turn away from his uncompromising and dangerous zeal.

As Christians, we try to serve God faithfully and become disciples of Christ. But we are human and flawed, so sometimes our strong opinions conflict with our beliefs. We struggle with all that Christ expects of us and there are moments when we fail. During those times, Christ confronts us in order to set us back on the path he encourages us to follow.

You may not necessarily encounter a Damascus Road experience, but, if you let him, Jesus will change your life and reshape your faith forever. Amen

Confession: Lord Jesus, You know us as we truly are and see all that we do. Forgive us for being led astray by our strong opinions and zealous passion. Help us to filter our thoughts and decisions through Your truth, way, and life. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

Sending out prayer: Fight for your faith. Fight for equality. Fight injustice. Let Jesus break into your being. Let God bless you. Go now and tell others about what he has done. Amen

Let Your Light Shine In The Darkness www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsHgl-RMvfY O Happy Day That Fixed My Choice www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytB-P77Tep0 Open our Eyes Lord www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XJu0mnn_b4

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