Rev. Suzanne Gorhau - First Presbyterian Church
This summer, I've been preaching a sermon series on the Apostle Paul. He wrote many of the letters in the New Testament, and he started quite a few churches. Paul was responsible for much of the spread of Christianity in its early days.
But before Paul started churches and wrote letters, he persecuted Christians. A man named Stephen, one of the leaders in the early church, ran afoul of the authorities, and was stoned to death. The Bible says that those who were stoning Stephen laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul (Paul's name was Saul before he was converted). The Bible goes on to say, "Saul approved of their killing him." And then, "That day a severe persecution began against the church in Jerusalem...Saul was ravaging the church by entering house after house; dragging off both men and women, he committed them to prison." Acts 8:1,3
On the way to the city of Damascus, to round up more Christians, a bright light blinds him and knocks him off his horse. He hears a voice say, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" Saul says, "Who are you, Lord?" The voice replies, "I am Jesus, whom you persecute." After this encounter with the risen Jesus, Paul turns 180 degrees. He starts telling people about Jesus, and often ends up being persecuted himself.
What I find fascinating about this story is that Paul, someone who has done more to spread Christianity than perhaps anyone else, was wrong. When he was persecuting the church, he was totally, utterly wrong. I got to thinking about us. How often are we wrong? Do we ever admit it?
I think one of the problems with Christians is that we can be a little on the arrogant side. Sure, it's good to have strong beliefs. The reason I hold the beliefs I do is because I think they're right. None of us would hold a belief we think is wrong, would we? But since good, faithful Christians disagree about so much, I think sometimes we might, just possibly, be wrong. Maybe it's not always the other guy who is wrong. The Apostle Paul himself, in his letter to the Corinthians, said, "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known." 1 Corinthians 13:12. This side of heaven, none of us can know the complete truth because none of us is God.
What if we held in the back of our minds, "I might be wrong"? How would that change our interactions with one another, especially those with whom we disagree? Maybe it might give us a little humility. And I think a little humility is a good thing.