“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jews (the chosen nation) first and then to the Greeks (those who chose to believe by faith)” (Romans 1:16 paraphrased).
This declaration made by Paul lets us know that even though he had been a persecutor of those who believed in Jesus and those who promoted the good news, once Jesus revealed himself to him, he became a believer and a promoter of the good news, openly. Paul understood the law and knew that God had chosen the nation of Israel for His own, but when they chose to reject Him, He opened the door to any who chose to believe Him and abide by His commandments. First God chose, then we chose–He has always given us the power of choice.
God revealed Himself to the nation of Israel in mighty works so they would know how much He loved them. He reveals Himself to us, still by doing mighty works in our lives when we allow Him to do so.
I remember a time when I persecuted anyone who tried to get me to believe in the Bible. I challenged them to explain how they “knew” whether or not the words were interpreted accurately, who was the witness that could confirm it, and on and on. When I reached a place in my life where I had nothing else to read in my house, but the Bible, I read it. I have always been an avid reader of almost anything, but at the time I read my bible, I was in financial straits and could not purchase books the way I once had. I worked hours that curtailed my ability to get to a library and so here I was–wanting something to read and the Bible was there. It took me two months to read (starting with the Gospel of John) through the New Testament and then I worked my way back through the Old Testament to get a better understanding of what was said in the New. God’s plan worked! I now understood why things had happened the way they did. When I received the gift of salvation and speaking in tongues, I knew I had been wrong and was so ashamed, I wished I could go back and find those people I had taunted. But God in His infinite wisdom (and sense of humor) used me to promote the Gospel by encouraging people to read the bible for themselves and then open themselves to hear Him, revealing understanding of His Word.
Though I never had anyone tortured for their beliefs, I can certainly relate to Paul’s words. I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ because it is the power to renew life, retain joy in the midst of trials, the avenue to having a personal relationship with God and ability to have communication on a brand new level. I am ashamed of my behavior and conduct to those I once taunted for their beliefs, but I am not ashamed of who I am or whose I am and I will tell it–from the valley to the mountain-tops–and if people do not receive it; that is not my responsibility. My job is to tell it, their job is make a choice to receive what I say or not, the end result is on God! Hallelujah!
Thank you for sharing your story! I love the story of St Paul. What better example could we have of someone who rose above his past for God and because of God? God bless you as you keep up your work!
Thanks for the encouragement Tina. And I agree. We all have a past and hopefully, we all rose above it just because He is who He is!