15 This is a trustworthy saying, worthy of full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst. 16 But for this very reason I was shown mercy, so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His perfect patience, as an example to those who would believe in Him for eternal life.
I Timothy 1: 15-16 NET
I was sitting among a group of guys around a month ago, really just hanging out and enjoying company. It was great just to feel the normalcy of being a 'dude' and taking a break from our not so distant future endeavors. Somehow missions came up in conversation (note the sarcasm!) and one of the guys piped in with a intriguing statement... "Man, I could never go do missions for a living, the way I have been living?!" Of course, we all laughed at the half-joking comment. And of course, I had to throw in a light-hearted jab or two. It was shortly after that moment that God used another buddy in the group to bring the verse above to bring the room into reverential silence.
This verse in I Timothy 1 has been in the forefront of my mind for several weeks now. He used a senior director from TEAM in our pre-departure orientation to share that verse one evening previous to the above situation and it has never left my thoughts. Well God, I am listening now. What a foundational verse for my life... How did I never read this before?! Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst. So simple but at the same time so profound.
The story of Paul is such a cool story of redemption through Christ and a testimony that no one is beyond the saving grace of the Lord. A guy that can go from such an extremist mindset and in his grand conversion in Acts 9 meeting Jesus on the road and then pen the words above... Wow! As I read this verse in I Timothy 1 I am reminded just how close God wants to be with you and me. "I was shown mercy, so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display HIS perfect patience..." Are you serious?! God wants to display His perfect patience through this guy? Wow!
As our family and I embark on this journey I am reminded almost daily that I am one of those sinners. My story isn't as extreme as Paul's but I am a sinner with a human self-doubt. The great news for me and hopefully you... We have been shown this astounding mercy so that we can bring this important message here, there or anywhere. Don't be bashful about being that 'example' Paul talks about in verse 16. Stand up and go forward. No it doesn't have to be internationally but it can be anywhere in your life like your office, school or with a friend. Use your story to be a light for Christ. Be the example of Grace and Mercy.