Though the stress and isolation of pandemic can bring spiritual malaise, there is authentic energy for life in Christ.
Everyone I meet seems tired. We have more time to rest and are resting less. I like this cute post:
“Dear sleep, I’m sorry I hated you when I was a young kid. Right now, I love you very much and I cherish every moment with you.”
I preached recently on the conversion of Saul of Tarsus (the Apostle Paul). In Philippians, Paul, describing his pre-Christian life, wrote: “as to zeal, a persecutor of the church.” The Greek word, “zelos,” doesn’t describe random energy—it is purposeful passion. Before he met Christ, Paul was energized by his hate of Christ and His followers.
It’s possible to be artificially fueled by a deception that not only hurts others but also, in time, is self-destructive. We mustn’t confuse the energy that Jesus calls “abundant life” with counterfeits. Real zeal for living comes from the life Creator alone.
The story of Saul’s conversion is fascinating on many levels. He grew up as the prize student of the famous rabbi Gamaliel. Saul was brilliant, persuasive, and exalted in religious and political circles. He went to Damascus with “papers” authorizing him to arrest Christians. He was passionate about his purpose—he wanted to stamp out Christianity. But, instead of marching into Damascus with his impressive entourage in tow, Saul was blinded by a glorious encounter with Jesus and, for three days, was led by the hand around Damascus. God appointed a Christian (a local leader whom Saul would have likely arrested if possible) to pray for Saul. Scales fell from the zealous Pharisee’s eyes and “immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying ‘He is the Son of God.’” (Acts 9:20, ESV)
How odd and wonderful. Saul of Tarsus lost all the things that previously made him feel alive (societal stature, self-righteous superiority, religious standing) but he suddenly felt more energized than ever before. Immediately, Saul began preaching and teaching despite the persecution. Soon, the local Jewish leaders conspired to kill Saul, but “but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.” (Acts 9:25, ESV)
Before he met Christ, the Apostle Paul fed off the counterfeit energy of hate and self-righteousness. But, in Christ, he discovered real zeal. Hate and hypocrisy fill the soul with false adrenaline that eventually poisons the heart. But love in Christ brings fuel for all of life. And that’s the Gospel!