3/12/10

A Christian's Past

Before we begin discussing Christianity in a practical and honest way, there is one thing we need to address - our past. As you read these words, memories of something you have said or done in the past may haunt you, but more importantly, they keep you from sharing your faith or your thoughts about faith. One of the most effective tactics of the devil is to remind you of your mistakes when you have minor moments of bravery in stepping out for the kingdom of Christ. Satan launches fiery (memory) arrows that pin you back to the ground, making you scared to speak or act for fear that someone will call you out on your past behaviors. Most of the time, that someone is you. I used to be like that. And when I say "used," I mean even a few minutes ago, before I started writing this post. It never really leaves us. The only way to dodge the arrows is to ask for God's strength in stepping out. Ultimately, we have to trust him.

So, how do we trust him while we're stepping out into faith? What does that look like? To put a spin on Apple's slogan, there's a verse for that, a few actually. In 1 Timothy 1:12, Paul thanks Jesus for giving him strength and thinking him worthy of his service. Immediately, we see that God gave him the strength to make an impact as big as Paul made on the world. God had to give Paul strength because he knew the resistance he would meet. What resistance? A lot of people that knew his past!  Sound familiar?

In verse 13, Paul says he was once a "blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man," but was shown mercy. There is less imagery in this verse. To be more graphic, Paul would go from house to house and drag christians to prison. (Acts 8:3). He had christians put to death solely for their belief in Jesus Christ. (Acts 9:1). Yet God uses Paul, the christian killer, to change the world?  Of course.

Who has a better excuse than Paul to hide behind his past? So, why did God use Paul? Could it be that he foresaw the timidity to share the gospel that we all have? Absolutely. God picked the baddest, most ruthless anti-christian alive and used him for his kingdom. "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life." (1 Tim. 1:15-16). 
So, we have God's truth and instruction about our past. Now what?

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