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Accepting Our Imperfection

Saul the Pharisee was on fire for God. His idea of peace was to demand perfection from himself and others. He believed that being holy as God is holy was the only path to peace. So, he made it his purpose in life to track down and imprison every Jew who had decided to follow Jesus. In his mind, these were enemies of God. But God intervened and gave him a new name and a new vision for peace.

Paul the apostle was on fire for God. But now, he had a new pathway to peace. He sang and prayed when imprisoned. He forgave those who beat him for preaching Good News. And he learned to thank God for all things, and in all circumstances.

So what? Why should we care? Those who seek peace need to learn from others who have found the right way. We cannot be exactly like them. But we can learn from them.

Here are some things we can learn from Paul. He learned that he couldn’t be perfect. He confessed his imperfections. Then he found a new way to challenge others to be the people God created them to be. “I know what I should do,” he says, “but I don’t do it. And what I shouldn’t do, I do too often.” He once believed that a relationship with God required him to be someone he could never be. Now, he knew better.

We all miss the mark at times, and hopefully those who love us will tell us when we do. All relationships struggle with being open and honest enough to talk about the mistakes we make. Paul still challenged those he believed had lost their way, but he no longer sought to permanently exclude these “rule breakers” from the community of faith. Instead, he came to understand that discipline should not be for punishment, but for a restoration of relationships with God and with one another. Yes, the pathway to peace invites us to be holy as God is holy; but we will never be perfect. It fills us with a peace of mind that passes any rational understanding. Be like Paul, pass it on.


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