In fabled knights’ tales, honor is something to be defended, but in the old, old story of how a Savior came from glory, it is something to be bestowed. In Greek mythology, the focus was on fatal vulnerabilities, the Achilles’ heels of gods and men. In the Christian faith, however, the focus is on a single life-giving virtue; namely, faith. Whereas fabled tales of intrigue and mythical legends are but fanciful histories of fictional beings, the Christian faith is the story of the future destinies of real immortals.
God does not apprise our potential on the basis of our history, but on the basis of our destiny. This explains how He can call a frightened Gideon a “mighty man of valor” and a wishy-washy Peter “the Rock” (Judges 6:11-12; John 1:42). Though neither resembled at the time of their calling what they would eventually become, their faith in God assured them of one day being made by God into all that they could be.
Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t see us on the basis of what we have made of ourselves or could make of ourselves? Instead, God sees us on the basis of what He can make of us in Christ. All we have to do is trust Him to do so. As Paul says in Galatians 5:5 (NLT), “But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us.”
This incredible truth of how God views us in Christ must carry over into our Christian lives, coloring our view of others. As a result, we must see something redeemable in them, just as God does in us. This is why half-breed Samaritans, with their white robes blowing in the wind, were colored by Christ for His prejudiced disciples as white fields of redeemable souls ready for the harvest (John 4:27-35).
No matter who the person is or how inconceivable their conversion to Christ may be, no one is beyond the reach of God’s amazing grace. His salvation extends even to the “uttermost,” or, as it is sometimes said, to the “guttermost” (Hebrews 7:25). Regardless of the depths of depravity into which one has sunk, they are still only a prayer away from redemption (Romans 10:13).
Two of the most incredible words in all of Scripture are the first words Ananias spoke to Saul of Tarsus in the house of Judas on a street called Straight (Acts 9:10-18). As amazing as it is that Ananias was even willing to go to a house where the church’s chief persecutor was staying, as well as to pray for him and baptize him, the most incredible part of this remarkable story of redemption is the first words Ananias uttered to Saul of Tarsus. What were the first words he spoke to this man who had come to town “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord”? He simply said, “Brother Saul.”
If the “chief of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15) and the early church’s chief persecutor was not beyond the reach of God’s amazing grace, neither is today’s chief of sinners and the contemporary church’s chief persecutor. Our realization of this great truth will enable us to see souls rather than Samaritans and Sauls of Tarsus as redeemable and potential brothers in Christ.
The Hidden Angel
They laughed at Michelangelo,
as he lugged the ugly stone home.
But he replied to them,
“There’s an angel trapped within
and I must set him free to roam.”
With magical touch and artistic hands
he began the sculpture according to his plans.
And from the stone appeared
a heavenly visitor to be feared.
Astonished were they who laughed in the way
at the stone statue’s splendor.
For never before had marble been made
into a figure so tender.
Many is the time in life that we meet
a man with a stone made soul.
And to love such a one is a difficult feat
as I’m sure we all must know.
But if we recall the story just told
of the artist and angel set free,
then perhaps when a man we stop to behold
it will be the redeemable soul and not the stone that we see.