Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Why I Love St. Paul's Story
The scriptural passages for today are deeply inspiring, showing a life of "righteousness" and "success" which was suddenly turned around due to the revelation of a deeper truth. Paul received an understanding which reversed the way he served God. He had originally believed he was serving God by persecuting Christians, but Jesus revealed to him that this was not His Way. Paul saw the light - was in fact temporarily blinded by it - heard that voice, asked what he was to do, and obeyed. He was baptized and cured of his blindness by a Christian, and immediately joined their group.
What followed this conversion - Paul's decision to live the life that Jesus offered to him - is responsible for much of what we know as the Letters to the Churches in the New Testament. God chose a murderous, legalistic zealot, showed him a blinding light, and spoke to him in a voice which he could hear. In so doing, He ended the murderous behavior and sent that light into "the world" as it was known then, and the larger world, which we know now.
You can read Paul's own account of his conversion experience, and a third-person account, here:
This is not to say that Christianity is the only way to live, or that Jewish people are bad or wrong.
What it does say to me is that legalism, inflexibility, "us vs. them" or self-righteous attitudes can lead us to do the wrong things for what we sincerely believe are the right reasons.
It gives me hope for myself, that my feeble, backsliding behavior, mistakes and misunderstandings will not - cannot - stop the work that God has for me to do. Thanks be to God!
"Rest in this: it is His business to lead, command, impel, send, call, or whatever you want to call it. It is your business to obey, follow, move, respond, or what have you... The sound of 'gentle stillness' after all the thunder and wind have passed will be the ultimate Word from God." - Jim Elliot