After hearing a sermon about the Apostle Paul's conversion today, I began to realize for the first time that Saul (later Paul) REALLY BELIEVED he was serving God when he was killing all the Christians. In a way, it makes sense; if Jesus was not really the Messiah, then He and His followers were committing blasphemy when they spoke of Jesus as God's Son. And Saul had so much passion for God in his work against the Christians. Who could really fault him? Shouldn't we admire his "love for God" even if he was misguided? And yet even with his passion for God, God still stopped him in his tracks and told Saul "Why are you persecuting me?"
I have often thought of my former "shepherd" like Saul before he became Paul. He has so much passion to serve God and he does it 100%. But does this mean I am to ignore the false teachings he instilled in me because he loves God so much and is trying so hard? Am I, as his supporters would suggest, to support his ministry because "his heart is in the right place"? His greatest misstep was teaching us (implicitly) that HE, instead of Christ, was the only mediator between God and man. And so, even though he has great passion for God and I'm sure he's trying to do the right thing, it's not pleasing to God. I still hope God will stop him in his tracks someday and say, "Why are you persecuting me?"
Passion and good motives still don't make abuse in the church acceptable. Not for Saul, and not for us.