May it Never Be!
Devotion lead in here
People bristle at the idea of authority being placed over them. Rebellions have been started to ensure freedom for the individual. Here in America, individualism, personal freedoms, and liberty are paramount tenets that have been enshrined in our founding documents. Yet, with all this, we willingly enslave ourselves to things that are not good for us and eschew those things that are healthy for us. Why?
14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!
Romans 6:14-15 (NASB)
10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”
11 And the Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying,
12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.”
13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem;
14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”
15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;
16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
17 So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
18 And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized;
19 and he took food and was strengthened. Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus,
Acts 9:10-19 (NASB)
Paul’s response at the end of today’s passage is an emphatic, “May it never be!” This one passage puts aside the idea that once we accept Jesus, have faith in His atoning sacrifice, and open the door of our heart to the Holy Spirit, we are to try to remove sin from our lives, in other words, to repent of those sins we are aware of. There is no room in Paul’s theology, remember Jesus says He will show Paul “…how much he must suffer for my name’s sake…” when He sends Ananias to return Paul’s sight (then Saul).
Paul had personal conversations with Jesus, saw future efforts he would perform on Jesus’ behalf, and the persecutions he would endure because of it. Yet, he still switched from hunting and capturing the early Christians to preaching the gospel in the name of Jesus. The disciples at the beginning did not want to accept Paul as one of them but they were influenced by the genuine nature of Paul’s conversion and ultimately did accept him.
Today, we have a difficult time accepting the words of Paul. Why is that? It is because if we genuinely accept Paul as a disciple of Jesus and his words as being true to Christ’s vision for mankind, it means we must change. It means we must give up things we consider to be okay, but which scripture says are not. It means taking on personal difficulty in a world that seems difficult enough as it is, so why invite hardship when we do not have to?
Because this temporal world is not the spiritual one we are called to build. Jesus, Paul, and the entire early church suffered much more than we can ever know to keep the faith. We have modern conveniences taken for granted they never dreamed of in their wildest speculations, yet we seem to think the burden Paul asks us to accept is too great.
For most of us here in the United States, that burden brings nothing more dangerous than someone’s opinion of us or harsh words from someone we likely do not know and will never meet on the internet. Yet those things carry more weight in our decision making than the holy words of Paul and Jesus as contained in the Bible.
It is time for men and women of faith to put aside the concerns and opinions of the worldly people who have no love of God as demonstrated by the fruits surrounding them. It is time for men and women of faith to take up the courage of the early church founders who lived in fear of their lives when following “the Way”. It is time for men and women of faith to speak boldly to power and say, with one voice, “No more seeking the approval of the World. We seek the approval of God.” To do otherwise is to sit back and accept the decline of God’s church and allow the sacrifice of Jesus to slowly recede from those who desperately need a better way. To quote Paul, “May it never be!”
- What ways and opportunities do you see in your faith to apply Paul’s declaration of “May it never be!”?
- Pick one thing the Holy Spirit is highlighting about “May it never be!” in your life and consider how you might change that thing to align more closely with the way of Jesus.