“He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” –2 Peter 3:9b (NIV)
Paul’s heart broke for his nation. Being a former religious leader of prominence, he knew full well of the delusion such people were under. Though they were zealous for the things of God the religious leaders were far away from Him. Ironically, their legalism ensnared them in sin for they made an idol out of the Law by placing it above obeying God Himself. Their strict interpretations of the Law made them miss the heart of God; turning them into oppressors who took pride in their self-righteousness. When Paul encountered Christ and allowed Him to invade his life, his eyes were open to what true righteousness really is. It is not through any effort of our own that we are made righteous, but we are made perfect only through the redemptive work of Christ in our lives as He conforms our hearts us to Himself.
Yet despite having this knowledge, Paul doesn’t scorn or look down upon them. We see in Romans 10:1 that he prays for them, earnestly seeking that they too will be saved and brought into the knowledge of their Saviour. How often to we adopt an attitude contrary to that of Paul! Too easily we give ourselves to attitudes of condescension and hate towards those who do not understand the message of Christ and who may persecute us because of it. We see them as enemies to be vanquished instead of men and women created in the image of God. Where is the love of Christ in such perceptions of people? His redemptive mission on Earth is to draw the world to Himself, restoring the fallen into a life giving relationship with Him. Our role as emissaries for Him is to pray for this world and allow Christ’s love and righteousness to shine through us. When we align our hearts with the good purposes of Christ and pray for those around us, we will see our attitudes change from one of malice to one of selfless love. By looking through the eyes of Christ we will see the people God brings along our path as those similar to ourselves before we encountered Him; as lost souls in need of salvation.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.