I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
1 Timothy 1:12–17
Paul cannot keep talking or writing without a burst of praise. He absolutely cannot do it. He’s like a full kettle, erupting with worship. He can’t process the matchless grace, glory proved again in the saving of garbage like him, without praising the King Eternal. And it’s not just him. Peter and John do it their writing and thinking, as if worship was so alive in them it jumps out of their skin. Which kind of brings up a question. How do we do it? How are we able to talk or read or hear about Jesus without the need for praise? A need burning, growing and forcing its way out into the world? I don’t know, except the answer might be shameful for us. There must be some way to do it, to rediscover it all with joy, to renew our passion and fire for Christ. But Paul’s path to worship is a funny one. The way up, up into God’s mercy and joy, is first and foremost the way down, down into the discovery of our own twisted hearts. Paul is gripped by the glory of Christ because he’s so aware of his sin, shame, and ruin. It’s proportional. The farther you go one way, the further you go the other. And what do we become? Little grace trophies! Pictures and examples of unmerited love, so all the other folks – who doubt anyone could love them if they really knew them – you can look them in the eye and say, “God knows worse about me and still loves me!” Sure you’re a dumpster fire. I am too. Paul knew full well what and who he was. It never stopped him. Our Father has shown so much grace to First Pres, your pastor, and our people. Let all our theology be dead if it does not spring into praise when we know love like that! Now to the King Eternal, Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, our Jesus, be praises forever! Amen.