April 29

 Acts 9:1-3

“Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.” vvv. 1-2

Saul loved the traditions, laws, and history of his people. He proudly claimed membership in  the tribe of Benjamin and had studied at the feet of the most learned rabbis…and he detested those Jews who had become followers of Jesus. In our time we are well acquainted with the murderous zealotry that stems from misguided religious convictions. We hear regularly about suicide bombings, mass shootings, attempted genocides, and horrendous repression of the weak and vulnerable. Most often the perpetrators will claim allegiance to a higher power but in reality their actions come from a belief that cherished values are being challenged and eroded. Operating from a position of fear coupled with a desire to return to the past, they use violence to intimidate and destroy opposition. Ultimately such gross irreligion is an affront to the Lord of the Universe who desires all people to walk in the way of love and inclusion. Ultimately Saul embraced the Jesus who he had rejected and proclaimed him as the Christ. The one who had been a persecutor of Christians became the architect of a new community of faith that he called the Body of Christ. It’s simply amazing how the Spirit works!

Thought for the Day: When will religious violence finally come to an end?

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