Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Conversion of Paul

I don’t know if it’s because I was named after him, but I find myself, like Paul, kicking against the goads [Acts 26:14]. Now, unlike Paul, I am not a great man. Paul was a great man even before he was converted. Then when God converted him he was a brilliant light in the Christian Church. Not that he would have anything to do with such a statement about himself, preferring rather to acknowledge that he is the chief of sinners [1 Timothy 1:15]. But God knows how to use sinners, even the chief ones. And use Paul He did. He converted him, and wham, the world was on fire with a missionary that wouldn’t do anything but bring Christ to the fore.

But there was a time he was kicking against those goads. “Saul, why are you resisting Me?” “Why are you stubbornly going against Me?” Sound familiar? It does to me. I’m converted, but I find myself kicking against those goads. I find myself following in the train of St. Paul the chief of sinners rather than the one who “determines to nothing among others except Christ and Him crucified” [1 Corinthians 2:2].

That’s because I’m really unconverted. Or rather, in need of being converted daily. As Luther said so well, we are saints and sinners simultaneously. We keep kicking against those goads. But God keeps converting us. We stubbornly cling to our sinful flesh and its desires. But God stubbornly lavishes His grace upon us. Get down on your knees! Be blinded to your stubborn and foolish ways! Because when you get up you will walk in new life. You will see with new eyes. You will be My servant. My own child. My joy and delight forever! [Acts 9:1-22]

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