On a day that our country celebrates freedom why in the world would I be talking about the Apostle Paul, you, and me? Maybe once you read this you’ll understand my train of thought.
Because we didn’t have internet for a few days we were on a Red Box binge. I stopped by to see what was new and withdrew from the machine Paul, Apostle of Christ. Being a Christian movie, I didn’t really know what to expect but I went in with an open mind and heart to try to glean something from it. There were two scenes in particular that hit me pretty hard. The first was this recurring dream or vision Paul had of a young girl he had murdered because she was a Christian. When the camera panned across his face as he relived that part of his life I was struck with who Paul really was.
It seems like I often only think of him as the man who had a miraculous conversion and then spread the Faith to so many. Never had I truly thought about the him and his full story. Saul, as he was known before his conversion, murdered many Christians and he was proud of it. He hunted men, women, and children down and killed them. God saw Paul in his mess and sin and loved him in spite of it. He didn’t give up on pursuing him. God encountered Paul, showed him the truth about who He was, change his life, and chose him to spread the gospel. As a result of God’s love Paul found freedom and the greatest love he’d ever known. He may have found himself in prison multiply times for professing his Faith but he was truly free – on the inside.
At the end of the movie Paul dies and you see him enter heaven. Guess who is there with open arms to greet him? All the Christians he had murdered. Can we talk about forgiveness here! Just imagine the freedom Paul experience on the other side when he knew he had been forgiven by those he’d killed!
You guys! If God can take a murderer and love him and change his life He can love me with my faults, sins, and failures. If He can love me He can surely love you! He does love you! Most importantly, know that He is always pursuing you even when you don’t see Him or feel Him. Take a moment and look around. I bet you’ll find him in places you never expected. He’s been running after you all your life. He wants to set us all free! Free of our pasts, our failures, our poor choices, the lies we believe about ourselves. Freedom in Christ is the greatest freedom you’ll ever know! Even when the world around you us crumbling there is freedom in Christ!
To make this even longer, this morning I read in a book my mom told me to get, The Book of Mysteries. It’s a one page a day devotional thing about the mysteries of the Bible. I found this one very interesting given my thoughts about the movie.
The East-West Continuum
It was dawn. We were watching the sun rise over the desert landscape.
“Kedem,” said the teacher. “It’s Hebrew for east, a most critical direction.”
“Why?” I asked.
“The Temple of Jerusalem was built according to the kedem. It had to face the east. The alter of the sacrifice was at it’s easternmost end. The holy of holies was at it’s westernmost end. Everything else was in between. So everything in the Temple existed on an east-west continuum. Everything that took place in the Temple took place on an east-west continuum. Most importantly, on the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur, the sins of Israel were atoned for, removed from the people, on an east-west continuum. The high priest would offer up the sacrifice in the east, and then sprinkle the blood on the ark of the covenant in the west. He would journey back and forth on an east-west continuum. And the closing act of the day would see the sins of the people symbolically removed away from the Temple and into the east of the wilderness.”
“But why is that more significant than if it was a north-south continuum?”
“Because,” said the teacher, “the earth is a sphere…and it turns on it’s axis on an east-west continuum. Therefore, the earth has a north pole and a south pole, but no east or west pole.”
“I still don’t understand.”
“How far is the north from the south?” he asked. “It’s finite. All north comes to an end at the North Pole. And all south ends at the South Pole. If the Temple had been built on a north-south continuum, then sin would have been removed a few thousand miles from the sinner. But how far is the east from the west? East and west have no poles. Therefore, they never end. East and west are infinite. They go on forever. In fact, the Hebrew word for the east, kedem, also means everlasting.”
“But back then no one knew the earth was a sphere.”
“God did. And all this is a shadow of the atonement of Messiah, our salvation. So in Messiah, how far does God remove our sins from you? An infinity away…an eternity away. And if you had all eternity, you could never find them again. As it is written, ‘So far has He removed our sins away from us… as far as the east is from the west.” (Psalm 103:12)
You guys! Do you understand? When you give your life to Christ and repent all the crap is gone! Like He literally removes it as far away from you as possible. Can we say FREEDOM!!!!!!!! No matter what you’ve done in your life you can be free from the shame and guilt you carry. You can be used by God to make a difference in people’s lives! It’s never too late to find the freedom you’ve always longed for. I’m here if you need to talk to someone.
Happy Fourth of July! Happy Freedom day!