Unity of Faith

Acts 9:19
And when he had received meat, he was strengthened.  Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.

We probably wouldn’t want to dwell very closely with someone who wanted to harm us.  We probably wouldn’t be eager to share a meal or a room with someone who opposed us and despised us.  But now here is Paul among the disciples of Damascus, the very people he had set out to bind and bring back to Jerusalem for judgment and punishment.  Did he think of that as he talked with them and got to know them?  Did they?  Were they still a little wary, wondering if he was genuine?

But what an amazing thing it is when God brings people together in the unity of their faith in Christ.  It’s amazing the kinds of things that can be overcome.  But these kinds of situations simply demonstrate how thoroughly God can change a heart and a mind with His presence and His love.  Paul was a man who was “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord” and now he was a disciple of Jesus himself.  After spending some time with him, they could see he was different.  The way he talked and acted and the things he was now doing were all evidence of a true transformation.

Jesus always seeks to unite His people.  It is pleasing to Him.  He delights in peacemakers and is working to join together His body of believers.  It’s not that we have to agree with everyone about everything, but a shared faith and the work of God’s Spirit within us can allow us to dwell with those who were once our adversaries.  Mistakes can be forgiven.  Faults can be overcome.  Old wounds can heal.  And we can be brought together with a shared purpose of seeing the Word of God go forth into the world around us.

The love of God in their hearts probably compelled the Damascus disciples to accept Paul into their midst.  They understood grace and what is was to be gracious with others.  We were all lost once.  We were all sinners when we came to God ourselves, no matter how severe our own personal sins may have been compared to other people’s.  So may we respond with the same love and grace that God showed to us.  When we are submitting to Him and seeking His glory and His guidance, many kinds of hurts can be overcome.

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