Summary: The Christian life was meant to be far more than we allow it to be. But at this point we've got to add something. Paul was not only converted from - he was at the same time converted to ...but to what?
For quite some time I had been encouraging each of you to bring your Bible with you to church...In fact I made you show them to me on many occasions. But besides just carrying it with you to church I repeatedly stress the importance of reading it.
And the reason, of course, it because of all the benefits that come as a result of time spent in the Word. It is how God speaks to us more times than not...it helps us to learn about the Christian life and how it should be lived...so many things there that are beneficial for us.
But there are things about the Bible that are really hard. For me, one thing I find is that every time I open my Bible I have to deal with another kind of believing altogether...the kind that will never allow me to manage my own life anymore.
I guess the real danger in reading the Bible is that you run the risk of meeting Him. You run the risk of finding God...and if that wasn't enough...you find that He's not at all the kind of God that you thought He was.
You find that He's not a God who will stay up there in the heavens somewhere, and let you look at Him...or talk about Him. If you read the book and find Him, you'll find that He is forever coming down... and at His convenience, not ours.
He is forever calling and choosing people...for some purpose He has in mind...and it may not jive with our ideas or purposes in the least. And, quite honestly, I believe that is why so many fail to read this book with any degree of regularity. Take the story of Paul's conversion there on the road to Damascus.
What God had in mind for Paul certainly didn't match up with what Paul had in mind for himself. Paul was a very busy religious man. And Paul's life was centered on something that was familiar to him... something which seemed solid and secure. But suddenly it was snatched away from Him.
In its place something had begun which to him didn't look anything at all like something that was a firm foundation...not a solid place on which to base his life. This is what he was fighting against so desperately.
In fact it seemed to him like the ultimate of insecurity. But the key here is that Paul went from something to something else. And that's the way it works if we follow God's direction.
First, let's look at the "from what"...
Did it ever actually occur to you that Paul wasn't converted from an evil life? He was not an evil person, especially as we look at it. He lived a very religious life...He knew the Scriptures, and knew them well...studying under one of the greatest teachers of all time.
He kept all the commands...tithed...attended church every time the doors were opened. He did it all. To quote a familiar parable...He had everything inside of him swept and garnished. In fact, he was not only cleaned, but starched and ironed and everything.
Yet something was wrong. He doesn't seem to have had any overwhelming sense of sin. His conscience didn't bother him...he wasn't bored with a religion that had nothing for him to do.