IMAGINATION: Paul’s letter to a church in the UK | Paul Sam Thomas, United Kingdom
Paul, an apostle of Christ, not by the calling of men but by the irresistible anointing of the Holy Spirit. To the church in London, and all the saints that are called by His name and sealed by the blood of the Lamb. Grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
I give thanks to God our Father always, when I remember your tireless work, love and passion for the spread of the gospel. I am delighted to know that all of you have come to love the Lord only by hearing about Him and not because you have seen Him, just as I came to know the Lord when He spoke to me on the way to Damascus. However, I also saw the glory of God at that time.
Do not let worthless earthly titles hinder your calling. Some among you are called to be preachers, teachers and elders. However, remember, not all of you are called for the same. We are all parts of the body of Christ, some of us are called to be hands, feet and skin, that are visible outwardly. Some are called to be more internal organs, whereby your actions may not be visible to the world, but you are essential for the function of the body.
Even though my father had a fleet of ships, I have grown thoroughly tired of ship journeys. As we were travelling to Rome, we were caught in a storm. How many times have I been shipwrecked! Alas, I prayed, please do not let this happen again.
The captain and the soldiers went hungry for days in despair not knowing what to do. At the end of 14 days, I urged all of them to eat. We all could sense that we were getting close to the shore. Without our strength, we would not be able to make it. They did not heed what I said, but I took some bread, gave thanks to the Father and broke it. That kindled some flame of hope in their hearts as they all joined me to eat the bread.
As daylight broke, we saw the land! And the captain decided to row the ship to the shore. As they ran the ship aground, I knew strong in my heart that the God who charted the course of my life, had something greater planned for me! The soldiers had in mind to kill all the prisoners. Proving to me that my trip was approved by God, the centurion urged the soldiers to spare my life. We were all washed ashore into an island. After spending a few hours, we came to know that the island was called Malta. Here is an advice for you that I have told the church earlier also, it is not to forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it! And I assure you, the indigenous people were full of kindness and love that they reminded me of your church.
It was raining and cold, so we all gathered together around a bonfire. After a few hours of talking and learning about the local culture, I felt the fire was dying out. I gathered some wood that was around and put it on the fire. As I did so, a snake, from one of the logs, slithered onto my hand! Everyone started screaming and making noises. I could hear some whispers, “It is the goddess of justice”. I shook the snake off, yawned and continued. If a couple of storms, a few shipwrecks, a dozen stoning, a bunch of floggings could not stop me from the goal Christ has placed for me, I do not think a snake can do much better.
A couple of minutes later people started behaving strangely around me, offering me water, food, and massages. It is as if I were a god! Later, when I talked to Luke, I found out that they thought of me as a god. Which explains why they took me with a pompous and flashy parade to the house of Publius, the chief official of the Island. For three days I forgot the shipwreck and the pain I endured, as he lavished us with his generous hospitality.
It has been a long time since I have been a recipient of such great treatment, but such relaxations make a lazy preacher. As I sat praying for an opportunity to share the good news with the locals, I was informed that Publius’s Father was unwell and in bed. The moment I heard this, I rushed to meet him. You know the phrase, “When you are ready to do God’s will, he will open the way” If not, I am teaching you because as I was willing, he showed me this wonderful opportunity. As I laid my hands on the old man, God healed him. Hearing this, many more started to rush in. The young, the old, the sick, the healthy,and everyone came to feel God’s touch, or to see what was going on. As we were to leave, they gave us everything we needed for a comfortable journey. What we threw off the boat during the storm, they doubled. What kind people!
Then we sailed to the goal God has placed in my heart. Where I am now, in chains, in Rome. In writing all this, I do not expect you to shower me with sympathy, or marvel at the amazing work God has done in Malta. Rather, I would like you to take a step forward. I know that God has placed a goal, a dream, a calling upon your life, and it is now more than ever that you need to step out of your comfort zone. Make the journey towards your goal. There may be shipwrecks along the way; however, these shipwrecks will only make you know for sure that you have not been called by any man, but by God.
Do not waste your time with worthless talks and plans for fame and glory. God does not need a famous person, He needs a willing person. Do not walk but run your race, not looking right or left, but straight on towards the goal that has been set forth for you. Everyone has a different race, some might be shorter than yours, others might be longer. As long as you have set your eyes on the One you and I love, and set your focus, passion and desire aimed at the finish line, you can be sure of one thing. You can be sure, you can hear the Father greet you not as “famous and most revered”, but rather as “good and faithful”.
In these times, where people are unable to differentiate between land and the sea. Their horizons of morality shift like that on a tossing sea. I urge you brothers and sisters to lead your life blameless, and with the same passion with which you have professed your faith on the day of your encounter with our Lord. May the love of God guard your hearts and life. Grace of Jesus Christ be with you all.
Paul Sam Thomas, United Kingdom