Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Why Saul?

I haven't heard this song for years.

We will work with each other, we will work side by side.
We will work with each other, we will work side by side.
And we'll guard each man's dignity and save each man's pride.

--Peter Scholtes

The first time I heard this version, at some Christian meeting in the early 1970s, I was shocked. Dignity? Pride? This was news to me; I'd heard only the Bowdlerized version that replaced that line with something more in keeping with Modern Christian Thought. I've forgotten that version, but I remember the incident.

Who cares about dignity? And pride is something to be ruthlessly stamped out, right? I wonder.

What is life without pride? I see the results of this every day: people who've given up. Some are on top of the heap, and keep their humanity in some far corner while they step on everyone else in a ruthless scramble to stay on top. Also in people on the bottom, wandering around aimlessly. There are many in the middle, too, just waiting for either retirement or death.

Some have passion but no guidance. Some have neither. I wonder if pride isn't an essential part of human guidance, because pride might have something to do with caring. People who are proud of their neighborhoods take better care of them.

Now, why did God choose Saul? At first glance, Saul's the last person you'd look at to bring the gospel to the world. He has a stated and demonstrated hatred for the Lord Jesus, everything He stands for, and all people who are associated with him. He thinks nothing of just killing them, like a doctor cutting out an infection.

But the man did have passion, he had pride, and he had direction. He knew what he wanted. Maybe it's a shorter distance from that condition to being an effective missionary than it is for someone like me: modern, dispassionate, distant.

The big question for me is, "How did God effect this change?" Of course, God could have simply reached into Saul's mind and switched a few neurons around, but if He had, love would have collapsed and the universe would have popped like a bubble. Gone. If Jesus were to appear to most modern people on the road to anywhere, they'd just drive on by. Most likely He wouldn't even be noticed by anyone in the river of traffic. If he were noticed, people's response would be "I'll get back to you on that. Sorry. I have a meeting."

Saul was, by his own statement, a Jew's Jew. He passionately followed the rules. You'd think that someone like this would be impervious to a new message, but I wonder if Saul's passion came from knowing that he was shoring up a burnt-out building. Passion comes from somewhere, and perhaps Saul compared his slavish devotion to rules to the shining passion Jesus showed for everyone. Love can't be hidden, and Jesus was here to shine from a hilltop. It probably drove Saul nuts. Something in him was whispering "This is true" and he was acting out his opposition in ever greater acts of rage.

God can't manipulate people. He can show, he can demonstrate, but he can't force. Our society knows little of the ways of love, force being the bone in an otherwise flabby and dead structure. Ever more signs, ever more laws, and ever more disobedience from people who have a feeling that control of that sort just leads farther into a hole.

I wonder what would happen if our leaders respected pride and dignity as much as God does. Jesus came to Saul, in person, with bells on, and Saul collapsed. He could no longer deny the truth. He had three days of blindness in which to think about it, but the issue was never in doubt. Dignity, love and pride are a strong combination.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?