Acts 26:19-32; 1 Samuel 1:1-2:10; Psalm 49
Rosaria Butterfield was a tenured professor at Syracuse University. She was opposed to Christian beliefs as an atheist and was working on a book to “expose” the Christian right from her viewpoint. As she approached the Bible to tear it down, God spoke to her. She became a Christian, and is known for a book called “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey into the Christian Faith.” In that book, she describes her journey from atheism to Christianity. She has since developed a ministry to college students and speaks at churches and universities about her experience, often with her husband who is a Presbyterian pastor.
Mrs. Butterfield is an example of someone who met Jesus and had a life changing experience. Jesus made such a difference in her life that she seeks ways to show His love and grace to others. Paul was a lot like that. As he testified before King Agrippa, he talked about his conversion and then he talked about the call on his life from God. “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.” (Acts 26:19-20)
As Paul described the change that overcame his life once he surrendered to the call of God, he talked a lot about his sins. It’s interesting to me that he confessed to voting to put people to death, which was a crime in ancient Rome, if followed through, since only the Romans had the right to put someone to death. At the same time, though, he talked about how his life had changed. His testimony was so strong that Agrippa, near the end, accused Paul of trying to lead him to Christ – a charge Paul admitted. His call from God, which he tried to stay faithful to, was to preach that people should repent and turn to God, and that they should show their repentance, their new-found faith, by their deeds. During the first century, there was a lot of wicked behavior and the best witness for Christ was the changed lives of the believers. There was no debate over faith and works in Paul’s ministry, according to him. A Christian needed to have faith, and to let that faith change his life.
I can look back on my life and realize how God changed me. I remember being told by friends and family that they couldn’t believe how I had changed. Many were waiting for me to fall back into my old ways for a long time. Repentance, true repentance, causes our world views and our lives to change. If a person says that they believe in Jesus, but they continue to live in their old sin, I wonder if they have dealt with their need to repent of their old way of life. Following Jesus is not meant to be fire insurance; following Jesus is meant to be a life changing experience that happens because we’re walking with Him daily. Every day, when I read God’s word, and then write about it, I examine my life based on the teachings of all that I read (linked at the top), not just the verses I write about. I ask myself daily if I am being faithful to God’s call on my life, based on what I’ve read. (That’s one of the major reasons I link my daily Bible reading at the top.) Let me challenge you to examine your life in light of God’s word. Read the whole passage that I read every day. Ask God what you need to learn from it. Ask God how your life needs to change. And remember, if you do that, you aren’t alone; we’re on this journey together.
Lord, You have changed me, but there is still so far for me to go. Teach me from Your word every day. Let my life reflect how You are working in me so that others can experience the joy of walking with Your daily.