Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Conversion of Paul

So just the other day was the day we celebrate the conversion of the apostle Paul.  If you are unfamiliar with this story, I will quickly summarize the story. 

There is a very devout Jewish man named Saul.  He persecuted and had so much anger towards the followers of Christ.  While traveling he was struck down and had an interaction with God.  After this Saul no longer persecuted but preached in the name of Christ all under his new name, Paul.

It is a fascinating and inspiring story.  No matter what your background or what you have done, God still wants you, God is still there for you, and when you realize that, it is never too late!

And Paul makes this look so easy!  One day he is out persecuting all who follow Jesus Christ and then he is one of the first apostles of Christ and is responsible for 14 books in the Bible.  Now that is a big change in not a lot of time.

I wonder if he ever struggled?  I wonder if he doubted?

Now I will preface the rest of this post with again stating that I am not speaking based on scholarly evidence or theology that I can pinpoint or prove, merely a thought based on experience.

So when I look back at the story of Paul, I am always inspired.  It reminds me of my pilgrimage that I took to Greece to follow in his footsteps, which holds a lot of special memories for me.

The problem I have is that Paul is portrayed as having this one mega event happen and his whole life was permanently changed.

Yea, I may have to call him out on that one.

In my experience I have found that you can have a God experience almost anywhere and in many ways.  Whether it is outside in nature when you go out for a walk.  When you go to the rail for Communion on Sunday.  When you reflect on a weekend trip you just took.

God works in many amazing ways.  And this is not like college basketball, there is no one and done when it comes to God.

I find it hard to believe that God interacted with Paul just once and that was all it took.

As someone who has been angry with God and ran away and then found their way back and then drifted off again and returned again, and so on and so on…
I would have to say that my relationship with God has been a journey, not a single moment of conversion. 

One thing that I firmly believe is that God does not give us one chance to convert or to accept him.  No matter what we do or where we go, God is there too, even if we do not see it.

The other day in youth group, we had a conversation about whether or not there was such thing as an unforgivable sin.  A great conversation followed about forgiveness.

And from that conversation, I will share my views now. 

We, as humans, may not be able to forgive others for the wrongs they have done to us.  We may try but we may find it difficult.  Depending on the severity of the wrong, we not feel capable of being able to forgive that person.

What is even more difficult than that is forgiving yourself when you feel that you have done something wrong.  For many, this seemed like the more difficult thing.  Self forgiveness.  Many times we not be able to forget and forgive and move on from something we have done in our past that we are unhappy about.

However, then there is this amazing gift we have.  It was given to everyone and it is so amazing that it is almost too difficult to comprehend.  What is it you may ask?

God’s Grace!

Regardless of what we have done and what we do, if we try, if we make the effort and want to but sometime are unable to fully bring ourselves to always to the right thing…

If this sounds like you…you are in good company.

Have you heard this line from Paul’s letter to the Romans?

“…For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.”
-Romans 7:18

So this inspires me.  Now I don’t think this gives us an excuse to go out and do whatever we want as long as we half-heartedly say, “Sorry” afterwards.

You have to try.  Make the effort.  It doesn’t matter how far you think you from God or how lost you , it is never too late to have  God moment.

Look at Paul…he went from a man who persecuted anyone who followed Christ.  To a believer and preacher of Christ.  To the man that speaks so passionately about how he wants to do one thing but does not have the ability.  To one of the most recognizable apostles.

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