Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Larry Pray

Wednesday, November 19

I was violently persecuting the church of God and was trying to destroy it.
—Galatians 1:13b

It’s hard to believe that these words came from the man who wrote most of the New Testament. Is this the same Paul who gave us the letter to Rome, letters to the church in Corinth, Ephesus, Galatia, and Thessalonica, an epistle to the Hebrews and to Timothy? Without Paul the New Testament would be thin indeed.

He does not shy away from using “violence” to describe his persecution of the church. How odd that a proponent of the Prince of Peace began his career as a practitioner of violence.

But he was not alone.

Moses, after all, killed an Egyptian and fled the long arm of the law by retreating into the desert. Were it not for Moses, we would not have the book of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

The same could be said for David. He not only committed adultery, he arranged for the murder of Bathsheba's husband. Were it not for David would we have the Psalms?  What about the sections of Samuel, Kings, that chronicle his rule?

I paint here with an exceedingly broad brush, realizing that many books attributed to Paul were perhaps not written by him, and that many Psalms attributed to David were not actually written by him.

Be that as it may, the story of the God of peace is often carried by those who engaged in violence. It is, for a moment, tempting to simply disregard the record. But one of the blessings of scripture is that it gives us what we might refer to as the “good, the bad, and the ugly.” It does not flinch from the truth.

What then is the message? Perhaps it is that there is hope for you and me. Perhaps, despite our shortcomings, we can be useful in the building, the mending, and the caring for God's realm. Perhaps hope is the final word, not despair. And perhaps through the thickets of violence that beset us, we will emerge into the light of an open field, just when we least expect it.

Safe traveling!

Gracious God, you are the Author and Finisher of our faith. Forgive us our sins, and call us again into life that has no end. Amen.