CONVERSION [ACTS 7:51-8:1]
An angry mob roared its rage at the man who addressed it. Then, as one, the crowd rushed upon the man and swept him out of their city. Arms, strengthened by fury, flung rocks at him until they crushed the life out of him. And all along, “Saul was consenting to his death” (Acts 8:1). Filled with the rage, threats, and murderous intentions, Saul too railed against these followers of Christ – condemning, scattering, punishing, and killing them. But then, not long afterward, Saul himself became an ardent proponent of “the Way” he once denounced so violently.
What Saul – whom we know as Saint Paul – experienced was conversion, a head-to-head meeting with Jesus that led to a radical change in his priorities and philosophies. Once bent on destroying all who proclaimed Jesus as the risen Savior, Paul spent the rest of his life announcing, explaining, and defending this very truth. What he once persecuted he now embraced and declared with just as much passion and vigor.
The Bible is filled with conversion stories that highlight this radical change. Think, for instance, of the woman “who was a sinner” in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 7:36-50). Jesus’ words touched her heart and set her on the way of transformation. And as she followed this new path, she was led to the house of a Pharisee, where Jesus was dining, so that she could anoint his feet with precious perfume and tears of repentance (Luke 7:37-38). The Pharisee’s scorn did not matter. Rules of propriety fell by the wayside. Her love for Jesus filled her with courage in the face of opposition.
Saint Paul begged the Christians in Rome: “Be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Is your philosophy of life changing? Is your behavior changing? Does your life give witness to “what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2)? Conversions like this don’t have to happen overnight, but they do have to happen. Take your spiritual pulse today. See if things really are changing. If not, let us ask the Lord to reveal Himself to each of us more clearly and to help us become more like Him.
Jakarta, 6 May 2014
A Christian Pilgrim