Tuesday 25 January 2011

Bible Book:
Galatians

"For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin." (v. 11)

Galatians 1:11-24 Tuesday 25 January 2011

Background

Here Paul provides another account of how he became a followerof Jesus. St Paul was the original poacher turned gamekeeper of thereligious world; as Saul he was one of the leading persecutors ofthe newly-found Christian 'sect', which was making converts of manywithin the Jewish community. Saul would have a miraculousconversion on the Damascus Road (Acts9:1-9), and become a leading advocate of the Christian faith.However, in the aftermath of his conversion, he faced a hugecredibility gap among those who simply did not believe he was achanged man; some thought this was a ruse to expose Christians tothe antagonist authorities. 

In our ever-so cynical, trust-averse society, there is muchscepticism towards those who claim to have undergone some religiousexperience, especially a life-changing one. There is also a fearthat new converts will become 'Holy Joes/Joannas', or zealots whowant to tell everyone about their newfound beliefs. Others may bewary of the convert's sincerity; that they are seeking to elicitsympathy, forgiveness or a better hearing by claiming to be achanged person. Equally, it is difficult not to be mindful of themen and women whose newfound beliefs have led them astray andresulted in all manner of harm. 

There is little doubt that conversion brings about change. It ishard to imagine how a supernatural experience would not result in aplethora of changes. Far from being a negative experience,conversion often results in the emergence of individuals whosenewfound faith inspires them to stand up for truth, justice andequality. 

In Paul's letters, which were largely written to Christianconverts, he spoke about the importance of having a sound doctrine,imploring believers not to play fast and loose with teachings. Thisis paramount if new converts are to be balanced, committedbelievers who are seeking to make a difference in a cynical,suffering world. 

To Ponder

Paul became a Christian as a result of hismiraculous conversion on the Damascus Road. What are theadvantages/disadvantages of coming to faith like this?

How do we define what is a sound doctrine?

To what does your faith inspire you?

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