Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The most important thing?

“The most important thing for every person ever is that we each get to experience real life change.”

These are the words our pastor, Justin, shared in a message entitled "First Things First". I was expecting him to finish the sentence with Jesus or God or maybe even the Bible. But real life change… the most important thing? That took a little while to settle with my soul.

Justin used chapter 9 of Acts and the story of Saul (converted to the Apostle Paul) to back his statement. This chapter details the conversion of Saul on the Road to Damascus. As Justin spoke, I thought about Paul. (I love to read and reread his letters recorded in the Bible.)

Saul was a leader in the Jewish religion. He believed that in arresting and persecuting Christians, he must have believed he was obeying God. In Acts 22:3, Paul declares that he was “just as zealous for God as any of you are today”. (Chapter 22 is Paul’s own account of his conversion.) That is why his story is so powerful. Everyone knew who he was. Everyone knew what his life was like. Now, everyone knew he was different.

Saul knew of Jesus. He was educated in God’s laws. He was religious. However, until that day on the Road to Damascus, he didn’t experience real life change. That life change was dramatic and God used his story to expand the church. It didn’t matter how much knowledge about God he had or even that he knew the works of Jesus. When Saul encountered God and allowed his life to be changed by submitting to God’s authority, that is when his life truly began to thrive. The transformation story of his life is nothing short of amazing.

Yes, I agree that real life change is the most important thing for every person ever. I may not have some radical transformation story for my own life but I know that I am different because of Jesus. It is noticeable and I need to continue to pursue God’s transformation in my life. A life changed lives with purpose. A life changed has a different perspective. A life changed has power. A life changed has hope. A life changed has Jesus.

It is a good thing to pursue life change in my health. It is a good thing to pursue life change in my fitness. It is a good thing to pursue life change in my finances. None of that quite matters, however, if I have not pursued life change in light of eternity. It’s a question we each need to ask ourselves: “Has my life really been changed because of Jesus”?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:28-34

(Paul’s story as well as his letters can be found in the books of Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon.)

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