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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Something Remarkable

Yesterday I was listening to Galatians Chapter 2 on my MP3 player and I got to verses 15-16:
We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
Can you imagine what it must have been like to have been an all-star in your religion from childhood, knowing all the ins and outs of how it worked and becoming a leader who was so zealous that he would even physically exterminate those of conflicting belief, and then to have an experience that was so powerful that you would completely make a 180° turn and become a member of the religion that you had killed the members of before? To actually preach that the things you used to think would bring you close to God were in actuality not capable of doing that? Paul had clearly experienced something very powerful. He had no reason to leave Judaism, where he was already superstar clergy, and join what (from the perspective of Jewish leadership) amounted to a cult... and not a "safe" little cult, but one that was being actively persecuted by both religious and political authority. It would be like the Pope becoming a Mormon or Billy Graham embracing Islam (although neither of those groups is currently experiencing anything like the persecution the early Church was experiencing). Paul was a thoroughly-educated man, an intelligent man, a highly devout man... and he believed in Jesus. If he was ready to risk his life for Christ, what about you and me? How ready are we?

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