Dear friends in Christ,
Today the church commemorates the Conversion of St. Paul. The story of St. Paul’s dramatic experience on the road to Damascus is told in Acts 26:9-21. Jesus appeared to St. Paul and challenged him to repent from persecuting followers of Jesus and to embrace the Gospel of Christ’s light.
Imagine what that was like for St. Paul. His entire identity was probably rooted in persecuting others, and he was able to give all that up. Think about what it must have been like when the “new Paul” walked into a room of Christians who would certainly fear him and possibly hate him. And, yet, he loved those early Christians until he earned their trust and was able to be their pastor.
I used to not be a fan of St. Paul. I read some of the letters he wrote, and I didn’t appreciate his perspective. Some of his writings still confound me. But I learned to love St. Paul when I began to see him as an inspired human being, with emphasis on the human part. We’re all messed up, and St. Paul was no different. He’s the first to admit that.
Despite his many flaws, Jesus Christ called him to a new life of grace and mercy. That should be encouraging for all of us.
So today, I invite you not just to remember and give thanks for St. Paul, but even more to give thanks for God’s call to us.
As St. Paul was telling his story in the letter to the Galatians, he wrote this: “when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace…”
That’s just it. St. Paul didn’t do anything to deserve God’s grace or God’s call. Quite the opposite. And you and I have not earned God’s grace, but God showers us with blessings through his love, grace, and mercy.
Let us give thanks for God’s mercy and grace. And let us give thanks for all those moments when people are willing to turn away from evil and toward righteousness. St. Paul is our example here.
Are you ready for God’s call? Will you follow St. Paul’s example and go in a new direction?
More from our ministry:
Saint Paul as Mentor, Model, and Encourager: The Heart of a Leader
Explore God’s invitations in scripture and in your life: A Generous Beckoning
Walk with Jesus this Lent: Encounters with Jesus
From Grow Christians: The Larger than Life Ministry of Phillips Brooks