I share my rugged past often not because I am proud of it, because I’m not. I don’t do it because it defines me, because it doesn’t. There is also no nostalgia, I would never want to go back. I do it because Paul did it.
The Apostle Paul was one if the earliest Christians. He is one of the reasons that a fresh new faith spread all over the ancient world and became what it is today. But before he was a dynamic speaker, writer, and professor of Jesus, he was a madman. His mission was to stamp out the new Christian faith and he took to it with zeal. He arrested and imprisoned followers of what was then only known as “The Way”. He hunted them down, tore families apart, and watched approvingly as they were murdered in cold blood.
Following a dramatic meeting with the risen Jesus on a dirt road, Paul changed. He became the exact opposite of his former self. He preached to any who would listen. He endured poverty, prison, beatings, shipwrecks, and ultimately beheading for the sake of the faith he once aimed to annihilate.
Paul routinely confessed his murderous past as a way to connect with his listeners. If a man such as himself could change as a result of an encounter with Jesus, so could anyone. He was not afraid to tell the truth because he knew that God could use what he had been, to impact who he had become, and was becoming…an evangelist like no other.
Paul wrote a major chunk of the New Testament part of the Bible. He planted churches all over the known world of his day. If God can use his story, he can use ours too.
I once was an addict, but not anymore.
I once routinely hurt myself and others, but not anymore.
I once was a pretty good thief and burglar, but not anymore.
I once spent a large chunk of my high school years homeless or in jail, but now I just visit to talk about Jesus.
I once was a horrible husband, but now I am a far better one.
I once was a grand liar, but now I cherish the truth.
I once was a selfish jerk, but now I try to be generous.
I once wouldn’t dare ask for help, now I ask a lot.
I once was a lot of negative things and now I am becoming fewer of them steadily.
Similar to Paul Jesus saved me while I was in the midst of some horrible things. He didn’t wait for me to get better, he did it while I was screwed up. Paul was raving mad when Jesus showed up in his life and so was I. Paul shared his story in a way that invited others to know and follow Jesus, and so do I.