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When most people want to make a life change, they think about one of three things: diet, exercise, or habits. From paleo to keto, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, you name it, or pilates, cardio, running, lifting, and HIIT, our lives are full of choices.
We make strides to improve our organization, the food we eat, and the workouts we follow, but what about when we need a change that goes deeper than the surface? What do we do when we realize that it is our souls that need a life change?
In Acts chapter 26, Paul is on trial for saying that Jesus resurrected from the dead. Presenting his case to King Agrippa, the ruler of the district of Galilee, King Agrippa was not a Christian. However, because Paul knew the King was familiar with the Jewish customs and controversies, Paul made it clear he was on trial for Jesus by boldly declaring his faith and sharing how one man radically transformed his life.
A Life Change Takes Three Things
If you want God to transform your life like He did Saul’s (Paul), you have to be willing to do three things.
- Share Your Testimony With Others
- When God blinded Saul on the Road to Damascus, He changed his entire life. During the beginning of his ministry, Saul was so obsessed with the Law that he did not realize His persecution of Jesus was a persecution of the One He was called to serve and share.
- “On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ “Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ “ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me’” (Acts 26:12-18, New International Version).
- Saul, now as Paul, was not afraid to tell King Agrippa and a sea of Believers and Unbelievers alike that he once persecuted those he was now on persecution for trying to save. He believed that even if telling his past shamed him, God would get the glory for his testimony.
- Choose Jesus Over Religion
- Before he became Paul, though, Saul was so caught up in the religious sect as a Pharisee, it took a blinding experience to set him on the right path and reveal his destiny as an assistant of the Lord Most High. Today, many of us, including myself, get stuck in this way of thinking, and as a result, miss Jesus. We are far too preoccupied with dotting our I’s and crossing our T’s that we abandon what it means to live, love, and serve others as Jesus would to those around us.
- After Paul tells King Agrippa his past, he then isn’t afraid to share that Jesus is greater than any Law the people of his time have been called to follow. When Jesus told Saul (Paul), “I will rescue you from the persecution of your own people and from the hostility of the other nations that I will send you to. And you will open their eyes to their true condition, so that they may turn from darkness to the Light and from the power of Satan to the power of God. By placing their faith in me they will receive the total forgiveness of sins and be made holy, taking hold of the inheritance that I give to my children” (Acts 26:17-18, The Passion Translation), making that declaration had to be terrifying. After all, the Pharisees were known for their rigid interpretations of the Law, but a frequent violation of the Spirit. It was no wonder when Jesus came claiming to be God, they would question everything.
- But if Saul’s conversion to Christ teaches us anything, it is to choose Jesus before and above everything else. Jesus, Himself, even reminds us in Matthew 5:17-20 of the Berean Study Bible, that He did not come to abolish the Law, but fulfill it for us. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. So then, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do likewise will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever practices and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-20, Berean Study Bible). Only after we are willing to share our stories and choose Jesus over a list of regulations are we able to be bold enough to go against the crowd around us.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Go Against the Crowd
- Standing before King Agrippa, Paul boldly declared not only that Jesus was the Messiah resurrected from the grave, but that the only way to inherit eternal life was through Jesus Christ Himself. It was a bold and audacious claim, and many were appalled he would state such beliefs. But like Saul turned Paul, we need to be willing to humble ourselves before the Lord when He blinds us.
- In order to be open to this blinding, we must be willing to stand against opposition that denies Jesus and unrestricted to how He wants to reshape and reorder our lives. Sometimes, the hardest thing about being pruned by Jesus is not standing up to others, but facing ourselves and the things we tell ourselves we have to do in order to be right with God.
- At the end of the day, the greatest thing about God blinding us is not that it is scary and new, but that He must have something greater in store than how we were previously living. Saul truly thought He was obeying God by persecuting Christians before he realized he was held captive by the regulations of the Law and not the freedom Jesus brings by fulfilling it. But be encouraged: God would only blind us to set us on the right path and direction that fulfilled His calling in, on, and around our lives.
Paul was not crazy as people foresaw him, but he was willing to change his view of God and religion in exchange for the leading of Jesus through the gift and Spirit of the divine Holy Spirit.
If we want to experience a radical life-changing encounter with Jesus today, we must be willing to acknowledge what He’s done in our lives, value our relationship with Him as far greater than the nit-picks of religion, and not be afraid to go against the mainstream crowd.
How is Jesus creating a life change in you today?