Links Daily Devotional

Altogether Changed

They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they praised God because of me. (Galatians 1:23-24, NIV)

I’m a little tired of the now-ubiquitous expression, “game-changer.”

It shouldn’t bother me. I’m a sports guy. But when every new direction in a person’s life is described as a game-changer, I get to wondering whether anything is bigger than that anymore? I think my wife would find it odd, say, if she heard me tell my friends, “Man, marriage… now that was a game-changer!”

Certainly—all drops and ensuing discussions aside—Tiger Woods’ wedge clanking into the flagstick and finding the water at fifteen on Friday of the Masters was a game-changer. We might even say it was a “tournament-changer.” But a life-changer? Not at this stage of his career. You see, some things are bigger than a game.

Does all of this matter? Am I only playing with semantics? I hope not. Here’s why: Too many people are going around saying that God can’t really get the job done. His power to change us is rather limited, really—by our circumstances, by our personality, even by our penchant for sin.

The apostle Paul believed no such thing, and neither did those who witnessed what happened to him. God did not just change Paul’s “game,” making him a little bolder here or a little more gifted over there. Nor did he wipe Paul’s slate clean and just leave him as he was. No, God delivered a whole new man.

Paul, by his own description, had pointed his religious course in one direction and one direction only. He was “advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.” This was no nominal Jew, easily turned by a contemporary idea. This was a firm believer with no reason to say yes to any other faith, least of all the one whose adherents he was actively persecuting.

But God flipped Paul inside-out, upside-down, what have you. He tore the man from his moorings and set his course for Christ. Indeed, Paul wrote, it “pleased God to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach among the Gentiles.”

If we do not believe that God can change us this radically—that he can interrupt who we “are” and make us who he would have us to be—then we do not believe in the power of the resurrection, for “if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you” (Romans 8:11).

Jeff Hopper

May 23, 2013

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