Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 1 Timothy 1:15
I don’t have to tell you this. You see it. You hear it. You read it. Opinions about rioting, Trump, and COVID-19 are everywhere. If you say something, you mess up. If you keep quiet, you mess up. If you protest violently, you are wrong. If you protest silently, you are “saying” something offensive. If you wear a mask, you love your neighbor or you don’t have enough faith. If you don’t wear a mask you hate people or actually have faith. If you attend a “live” worship service, you are a solid church member or you are risking your life. If you aren’t ready to attend church yet, you are being wise or being foolish.
Opinions are everywhere.
I guess it’s true. Opinions are like belly buttons. EVERYBODY has one.
With opinions come sayings. Phrases. Declarations.
“I can’t breathe.”
“Wash your hands”
“Don’t touch your face.”
“Stay six feet apart.”
“Black Out Tuesday.”
“Keep America Great.”
“Black Lives Matter.”
“You Loot, We Shoot.”
“Arms Are for Hugging.”
On and on and on and on we go.
Sometimes, after I watch the news or scroll through my social media feeds, I don’t know what to say, believe, do, or think. It’s maddening. Then I read the Bible. (BTW – it ALWAYS helps to read the Bible!) And I hear the Holy Spirit, through His Apostle, say this. . .
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. . .”
Whoah. That’s bold. Paul is about to say something that is true and right and good and trustworthy and something you can put all your weight into. Paul is about to say something that is worth all of your acceptance. There are sayings out there, in other words, that may or may not deserve acceptance. But what he’s about to say is worthy, deserves FULL acceptance. Hashtags are good. Sayings are good. Phrases on posters are good. Everyone has an opinion. But we aren’t commanded to fully accept these things. We are commanded to fully accept what Paul says next. . .
“. . . Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
Doesn’t just reading that cause your blood pressure to drop a little bit? Doesn’t it recenter you? I tend to wear all of my tension on my shoulders and neck. Just reading that from Paul allows my shoulders to drop a few inches. I feel myself having the freedom take a deep breath. There is a part of me that is able to say, “Oh yeah. THAT is what matters most.” Here’s a saying worth tweeting. Here’s a saying worth putting on a poster. Here’s saying deserving a hashtag. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
Actually, tweeting, posters, and hashtags seem too cheap for this saying. This saying deserves everything we have and are and aspire to be. Jesus came to rescue us. Jesus came to save us. Jesus came to save, not white people or black people; not Trump lovers or haters; not mask wearers or mask rebels. Jesus came to save sinners. Every one of us. This deserves full acceptance. Not just by the people on your Facebook feed. It deserves full acceptance by you.
You see, I believe when this saying is, in fact, fully embraced – then and only then will we be able to properly express ourselves. Did you see Paul’s next phrase? Did you see how he closed this verse? He claimed to be the worst of sinners. Now, this may be the only error* in the Bible, but still . . . notice his posture. He recognizes he is the bottom of the bottom. He is the worst of the worst. Jesus came to save all sinners. Maybe followers of Jesus should start using the hashtag #iamtheworst. (Grin) Paul considers himself to be the worst of them. In other words, when “the saying” is fully accepted and embraced, there is a posture that hits you. A demeanor. A humility. A sense of “If God is going to love me like that, He loves everyone immensely. And if God loves everyone like this, how does that impact how I view the world? How can I live to help others experience this gracious love?”
I know you have an opinion. I know you have learned some new sayings and hashtags. I know you have shared them. Many are right and good and helpful. But be careful what you fully accept. Often, going “all in” on a saying you find on the internet is like putting a Band-Aid on a cancer. It covers up things for a bit, but doesn’t cure the disease. If you are going to accept anything, fully embrace the majestic reality that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. You. Me. And everyone you will see or read about today. That’s the ultimate cure.
*Before you panic, know that what I mean by this is I don’t believe Paul was the worst of sinners. I know myself. I have him beat in the “Worst Sinner” award. That’s all I mean by that. Please, no emails (haha).