Thursday, January 25, 2007
Is Anything Too Hard for the Lord ?- The Conversion of Paul
Today marks the minor festival of the Conversion of St. Paul. Few apostles or evangelists have days in the church calendar that identify them with a significant event in their life. The "Confession" of Peter was on January 18, but otherwise the days are noted only by the name and office of the saint. Paul actually gets extra billing in the calendar in the additional festival of St. Peter and St. Paul on June 29. It is interesting that of all the apostles these two should not have separate feast days, save the "event" festivals previously noted.
St. Paul is by far one of the most complex and fascinating personalities of the New Testament. A brief blog post could never do him justice. However, his story is encouraging for me pastorally as I consider the ongoing ministry of the church to reach the often hardened sinners of our own time. Paul was no ordinary non-believer. He was a persecutor of the church itself. He was "breathing threats and murders against the disciples of the Lord" (Acts 9:1). And by his own admission he "formerly blasphemed and persecuted and insulted" Christ (1 Tim. 1:13). Many would have been content to give up on Paul and assume that such a man would never become an ally of the Kingdom. Yet Jesus did not give up on Paul. He confronted him with the Law on the road to Damascus and called him to faith. And then made of him the greatest missionary the church has ever known.
There are many in our families and even in our churches (synod) who seem beyond reach. They are hardened in their opinions, bitter in their outlook, and resistant at every turn. We want to shake the dust from out feet and move on to easier prospects. But is the Lord finished with them? Is the story over? Is anyone beyond the grace and mercy of God? "For with God nothing will be impossible," the angel told Mary. And so it is still the truth for us today.