Earlier this week we heard Paul testify about his conversion from being a persecutor of Jesus and his followers to becoming a disciple of Christ. I continue to be amazed every time I think about Paul’s transformative experience. He participated in the arrest, jailing, and killing of followers of Jesus. Then Christ himself showed up to personally confront Paul about his behavior.
Paul’s conversion makes me reflect on God’s incredible capacity to love. Love makes us see differently. With love for the people in his path, Jesus sees possibilities within them that others fail to notice or even imagine. From the beginning of his ministry Jesus sees the potential within a group of fishermen who choose to follow. He finds the longing to believe within those outcasts that religious circles will not welcome. He sees potential for generous discipleship within Zacchaeus. He blesses the spiritual longing of Mary of Bethany who sits at his feet. Jesus sees who Paul could become and forgives this fervent enemy of his followers, calling him to a new ministry. As a result, Paul turns from being a saboteur to becoming a passionate missionary who authors several books of Scripture.
Jesus teaches his disciples to love your enemies because he wants them to share the vision of God’s redeeming work (v. 27). Love stretches us and changes our vision. Following Christ means learning how to see possibilities in those that others overlook, including the possibilities within those who are especially difficult for us to love?
When have I failed to see the possibilities that God has in mind for someone and either dismissed them or participated in their demise or oppression? When have I killed the dreams or spirit of those I don’t agree with or understand?
God, forgive me when I struggle to love. Show me a new way of being that honors you and the image of God in those I fail to see or understand. Amen.