Acts 26:8-11, Why is it considered incredible among you people if God does raise the dead? So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them. And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities.

Paul made the above statement. He referred to the time when he was sure he had things figured out. To Paul, Jesus was a fraud, not the Christ; Jesus represented one of the great threats to God’s purposes. Paul was so certain he was right about Jesus that he aggressively assisted in killing fellow Jews who believed that Jesus was the Christ. These devout, literal descendants from Abraham through Isaac likely believed most of the things Paul believed EXCEPT for Jesus’ identity and Jesus’ role in God’s purposes.

Immediately following the above statement, Paul gave an account of his conversion to Christianity. He was on his way to Damascus to arrest Jewish Christians. Ironically, the resurrected Jesus informed Paul of two facts: (1) God’s purposes were at work in Jesus, and (2) God was sending this infinitely Jewish person (Paul) to the gentiles (Acts 26:17, 18). This man who could not tolerate Jews who believed Jesus was the Christ would now teach gentiles Jesus is the Christ! Talking about a turn-around, this one would pass 180 degrees (if there is such a thing)!

As a result of this incredible turn-around, Paul suffered enormously as a result of the opposition of Jews and gentiles (2 Corinthians 11:23-33). Thus, the man who was so certain in his view of scripture that he had everything figured out (Galatians 1:13, 14), discovered he had nothing figured out. The man, who was so certain he knew God’s purposes, discovered the hard way that he was not even close to God’s purposes.

What would you do if God redirected your focus? To Paul’s credit, he was an honest man. He did not dig in and defend his past convictions though they represented enormous investments. He listened to the obvious rather than stubbornly argue with Jesus. He sincerely (though destructively) held his pre-conversion convictions with all his heart. He sincerely (though non-destructively—1 Thessalonians 2:9-12) held his conversion convictions with all his heart. If possible, he was even more committed to the fact that Jesus the Christ could save gentiles as well as Jews. What to him had been unthinkable became the understood.

Are you convinced that you have everything all figured out? You can open your life to great blessing by understanding one fact: You do not! You have no idea of the curves before you. You have no idea of the flexibility that will be demanded of you.

The issue is not do you have everything figured out. The issue is will you let God’s purposes be with you even on the most dramatic curves? If you let God be with you, it will be okay even when you face the unexpected.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 6 September 2007

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