A few Sunday’s ago one of the reading was 1 Timothy 1:12-17. For those of you who have not memorized the Bible, here is the text:
12I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, 13even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. 16But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. 17To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
The National Study of Youth and Religion discovered that Christianity is not the most dominate religion in
. Rather, the most dominate “religion” in America is “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism” guised as Christianity. Specifically I hear people talk about Christianity not as a source of transformation in the world but as a supplemental ‘support’ for the argument or worldview already held. America
“The Bible that homosexuality is a sin.”
“Jesus said I am the Way and so that means Jesus is the ONLY way.”
“Jesus is talking about a metaphorical cross. He is not asking us to literally die.”
“God said the Second coming will happen when
is restored.” Israel
I rarely hear my fellow Christians say things like:
“Christ entered my heart and I can no longer see my neighbor as an enemy.”
“God transformed my life and I am now and advocate for peace at all times.”
“The Holy Spirit has convicted me to give up a worldview that I held dear.”
“God has radically changed the way I see the world and people around me.”
And yet, this Scripture explains the latter list is more like what Paul said. He was a man of violence (he killed Christians). He was a blasphemer (he thought that he spoke for God). He was a persecutor (he sought out to eradicate groups he though of as ‘other’ or dangerous). He was a gun toting, scripture quoting, condemning, violent man who thought that his ways were not only Good but justifiable in the sight of God and could support his views with Scripture.
Then Saul/Paul encountered the Risen Christ and all of that changed.
He stopped killing. He intimidated Christ. He advocated for brotherly love for all people. His worldview changed and he could no longer think the way he once thought. Christ changed him.
I too was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. After 9/11 my friends and I wanted to join the armed forces and “kill those bastards.” Then I encountered the risen Christ and everything changed. I can no longer ever remember what it was like to think the ways I did in 2001. I cannot even image killing anyone. Christ changed me 180 degrees.
I do not think that I am the best Christian by any stretch. I can only share my journey and I have changed because of Christ.
The National Study of Youth and Religion expresses that American Christianity is most dominantly a religion which supports people’s current worldviews or arguments. That Christianity has been domesticated and any transformational aspects of the religion have been removed.
I pray this trend will reverse because Christ changed my life.