Certainly the apostle Paul lived a godly life after his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Though he had lived as an exemplary Pharisee, the best of the best in human Jewish terms, it was not until he met Jesus that he began to see the utter sinfulness of his life – the pride, the hypocrisy, the utter evil of his own actions he thought he was doing in God’s name.
What changed? He had heard plenty about Jesus from others, both those who opposed him and those who believed in him, but now he met the Lord personally. None of us can begin to comprehend who Jesus is until we do the same. Second-hand faith is hearsay, not true faith. How can we be sure what we hear is accurate, or that we are not deceiving ourselves? Like Paul’s life before Christ, it could all be a lie – a dreadful lie that put him against God, not for him.
Certainly Paul’s recognition of his serious mistakes and misunderstandings were enough to shake him to his core. My own sinfulness, once recognized and comprehended, was devastating to me, and I’m no Paul. His focus before Jesus was not selfish, but rightly-intended for God. He just didn’t know God. He listened to others and lived in the second-hand faith of others who also did not know God, even though they were the ones leading everyone else – the leaders of the chosen people of God. How could that have happened?Continue reading