Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 88; 148, 1 Samuel 13:19-14:15, Acts 9:1-9, Luke 23:26-31
Trying to cleanly divide the world into good and evil is like untying a pretzel: it turns out to be inseparable unless you break it. Most of us think we make good choices, or at least justifiable ones. We rarely have time to take a mental step back and evaluate all the circumstances which have shaped what we consider to be “good” before making our day-to-day choices – let alone apply that level of critical thinking to other people’s choices. Therefore, we easily slip into thinking people who believe or choose differently than we would are bad decision-makers or even bad people. Yet circumstance is sometimes all that divides us.
Simon of Cyrene is thought of favorably by much of the Christian church – but why? He was a man the Romans forced to help Jesus carry the cross. We think it’s good that for a time he relieved some of Jesus’s burden, but we can’t separate that from the truth that he participated in also helping along the crucifixion. Who is to say what we would have done under similar circumstances? Resisted? Carried it even further? The influence of the empire – be it ancient Roman or modern American – drives our actions (for good, ill, and both) more than we care to admit.
And then there’s Saul on the road to Damascus. His conversion, while incredible, was not voluntary. Saul wasn’t convinced by the apostles; he was in the business of arresting them because he believed he was doing the right thing by defending his faith. The resurrected Christ spoke to him personally and struck him blind. Who could be an unbeliever after that?
But here’s the thing. No matter what road we’re on, be it to Golgotha, Damascus, or the convenience store around the corner, Christ travels with us. We are both flawed and trying to do the right thing, our lives a tangled braid of delights and disappointments to him, and he loves us through all of it. We don’t understand ourselves well enough to judge anyone else. And Jesus frees us from feeling like we should or have to.
Comfort: Whatever road you’re on, Christ travels with you.
Challenge: The next time you make negative assumptions about someone, put in the effort to make some positive ones and note how hit impacts your perception of them.
Prayer: Turn, O LORD, save my life; deliver me for the sake of your steadfast love. (Psalm 6:4)
Discussion: Do you ever take time to ask yourself why you believe what you do?
Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group. You’ll be notified of new posts through FB, and have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!