One Sunday July 10, 2016 I invited members of the church to join in a one day fast to consider ways in which we individually and collectively create monsters of other people. Objectify people is never a right thing. Objects are often used, consumed and dismissed. We never should make a human being into an object.
But objects are not the only thing that turn people into, we also turn people into monsters. When we make another person or a certain part of our own selves into a monster, we feel like we have a righteous cause and the moral justification to kill that monster. Just like the mob in Beauty and the Beast wanted to gather together to "kill the beast!" We will become that mob when a monster is present.
Saul was a person who made others into monsters. The followers of the Way were not doing right by the tradition Saul was brought up in. These people claimed to the eat flesh and drink the blood of their leader. These “cannibals” worshiped a man named Jesus who was an enemy of Rome and even the Jewish leadership. Jesus was so bad that when given the option, the people chose to release a religious zealot named Barabbas instead of Jesus. These Christians knew their actions were evil which explained why they met in secret and even had secret codes and symbols. These Christians were, in the eyes of Saul, monsters.
Saul's conversion moved Saul away from making and slaying monsters. But this conversion was not on his own doing. He had an encounter with Christ. He was struck blind and needed the help of others. He fasted for three days. When his sight was restored, he was eyelash to eyelash with one of these Christian "monsters".
I believe that Paul's life is the archetypal Christian life and as such, the Christian must go through a conversion. While we cannot control the Spirit of conversion, we can make space for the Spirit to move us. While not formulaic, I asked anyone who would like to join me in a one day fast to reflect on ways we make monsters. In response to this invitation, I share with you some of the things I saw shared on Facebook.
It is my prayer that we might have a conversion from identifying people as monsters to identifying people as beautiful, beloved children of God. If it can happen to Saul/Paul it must happen in us.