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DAY 31

Day 31:

Wednesday: Why Paul?

Adapted from Galatians 1.11-17

Dear Jesus, Once Saul becomes Paul, he assures the Galatians that the gospel is not of human origin. He wants them to know, he did not receive it from a human source, nor was he taught it, but he received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

He confesses to his earlier life in Judaism where he violently persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.

Then he tells them, “When God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with any human being, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were already apostles before me, but I went away at once into Arabia, and afterwards I returned to Damascus.”

Please help us understand what Saul’s transformation to Paul means for us.

As we examine what it means to be “Easter People,” we hear the word “conversion” repeatedly. Willimon has three explanations of conversion that are helpful.

First, Willimon assures us that conversion happens when God or God’s representative approaches the individual and that person is “changed in the process of that encounter.”[1] Second, conversion produces a radical change that is entirely “something Christ does, not something we do. All of this has come to Saul as a gift.”[2] Third, “This sort of conversion involves a journey from self-confident independence toward child-like dependence. The one who knows so much must become as one who knows nothing, one who must be led by the hand, healed, and instructed by the very ones he once despised.”[3]

The Acts of the Apostles after the Pentecost can seem foreign to us in 2018. So how do we understand what it means to be “Easter People” now? Saul’s conversion has many levels—and his walk to Damascus is legend. However, I think Willimon’s three points are most helpful. God chose Saul, God changed Saul, and God empowered Saul. So the story is not about Saul’s ability—it is about Saul’s surrender. It would seem to me that our first act as Easter People is to surrender to God’s way understanding that it is “the power of God to transform the enemy into the brother.”[4] Have you ever experienced an enemy being turned into a sibling or have you ever felt called to learn from someone you formerly saw as an enemy?

Dear Lord, Please grant us the ability to let go of our need to be self-sufficient; and by Your grace empower us to surrender to your way on earth as in heaven. Amen.

[1] Willimon, William H. (2010-07-15). Acts: Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (p. 78). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

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