We are forgiven leaders. Sinners by nature, saints by grace.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus asks Peter, three times, whether he loves him, and if he does, to care for His Sheep. Each time coincides with the times Peter denied Jesus. Each time, Peter seems to be forgiven on the account of his repentant love for Jesus. Each time, Peter is reinstated as the Rock and Leader of the early church. He is also reminded of his future death: on the cross, upside down.
We are sinners by nature, saints by grace.
As for my sin, I’ve dealt with serious rage. Anger that could hurt others and damage my relationships with all. While God looked down on my rage, as I did not love my neighbors, friends, loved ones, myself, as I should, he did not cast me from his presence. Instead, he lovingly opened his arms to me, enveloping me in his grace in the waters of baptism. There, I was rinsed clean, even if it was just by pouring. Even by baptism of pouring, every sin was poured from my head into the baptismal waters, forever erased like bleach to stains. I was forgiven. I was and am considered a saint.
Worthy was the Lamb to receive honor and blessing and wisdom. And worthy are believers who accept the Lamb, too. Because when we join God’s people, we receive, albeit slowly, all the honor, the blessings, and the wisdom. We gain new insight into the Kingdom of God in the here and now, seeing others as Beloveds of God no matter their spiritual status. All are Beloved.
How many times I’ve cried for help from the Lord, and he has healed me. He was erased all my fears and their monumental desire to kill my spirit. He has, having already wiped my slate clean from his eyes, helped me grow in relationship with Him and further work on my anger issues. He has helped me become medicated, work through therapy, and work on not just apologizing, but making those apologies count the first time.
Saul is one of those forgiven leaders.
He sinned greatly against God’s people, but Christ saw him on the a road to a larger city. Paul was on a mission to destroy the church, and God’s mission was to destroy Paul’s ego, pride, anger, and prejudice.
God does that to a lot of people.
God used Paul and created in him a better man than ever, more than his previous religion could.
Because it isn’t religion that saves us – it is God in Christ. We are sinners by nature, but by grace, Christ saves us and endows us with all the wisdom, love, honor, and a multitude of blessings. More than any person could handle.
God loves that much. Jesus, the God in the flesh, loves us so much.
Today, in church, we sang about how much Jesus loves us, and how much we love Jesus. In the multitude of hymns we sang today, we learned that we love Jesus because he first loved us! As future Christians, we might have cried to God to heal us. Before we were Christians, we were sinners, but Jesus loved us so much that he helped us enter the waters of baptism on our own free will, eager to join the church’s covenant.
We are still eager to serve Jesus, by loving God and loving others.
Alleluia. How could you be a forgiven leader in this day and age?