Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.
Today’s reading (Acts 9) gives us our first real introduction to a man named Saul. (Saul appeared before at the beginning of chapter 8 when he was approving the stoning of Stephen.) Here Saul is bent on persecuting the church. He believes that as he arrests followers of the “Way” he is doing the work of God. Saul believes that he is a servant of God doing the work of the Lord, just as Christians believed that the message they were sharing was also the work of the Lord.
Saul would soon have his eyes opened to the real truth. Saul’s desire was to serve God and to serve God alone. When he was setting out to go to Damascus to arrest Christians he thoroughly believed that he was punishing those who were breaking the Law of Moses. When he met Jesus on that road he knew he was wrong. He knew that the followers of Christ were the real deal. Once Saul realized he was wrong, his desire to serve God overtook him, and he gave his life to Christ.
Sometimes I think we vilify Saul as a Pharisee. While maybe this is validated by his actions or not, we must remember that he believed what he was doing was for the Lord. His underlying motive was to serve God. When he realized he was wrong, he immediately changed his position so that he could continue to serve God in the appropriate way.
The reason I say all of this is this: many times we run into people in the church that believe that something should be done a certain way, or they may have a belief that is a little different from ours, but we must remember their motivation. I remember about 12 to 14 years ago when my home church got their first pop machine. This was before we had moved into Family Life Center, and that machine was located in the old fellowship hall. I remember overhearing one of the Elders having a problem with the vending machine. He believed that Jesus overturning tables in the Temple gave us evidence against selling things in church. This would include things like a pop machine.
I think when he used that story to make that point he was way off base, and that story is not about that kind of thing at all. However, I must also remember his motives. While I think he had a misunderstanding of that particular passage of Scripture, his heart and motives was to serve God the best he knew. I think we must be cautious when others differ from us on non-essentials. We must look at their motives. If their motives are to serve God the best they know, but their best might not be right, we must proceed with love and caution. If their motives are pure, when they see the error of their ways, then they too will be like Saul and continue to serve God through correction.
So how well do you deal with people who differ from you but have their heart set on serving God?