I have always had a certain amount of curiousity regarding some conversions to following Christ. Some new converts become extremely zealous, others quietly make the decision, the rest somewhere in between the two. There are examples of these in scripture. The radical conversions intrigue me more than the others, I suppose because when I came to Christ and received the gift of salvation, it was not a radical change. I didn’t run to everyone I knew to testify of my new-birth experience. My conversion was gradual in realization of the transformation. That is wonderful for me. I have to receive in bits or I may get overwhelmed.
Saul of Tarsus experienced the radical redemption experience to the point that the entire world was changed, not from he alone, but through his ministry and its offspring. Saul wrote in each epistle, of how the Gospel of Jesus meant everything to him, and he reached everyone he could, even to the most poweful man in Saul’s time, Caesar, who had him put to death. Saul’s name was changed to Paul, meaning “little.” Some say he was small in stature, I think he, being well educated, a Roman citizen, kind of a movie star type of his day, reduced himself to put Christ on top of importance, himself the least.
I have known many people in my lifetime who have had the radical change. One, a dear friend who sells cars for a living. I know all of the car salesmen stories, you can tell them to your children. (Do salesmen lie and cheat? Yes, some think they win that way, but never do. Customers lie equally as much, though this is only discussed by salesmen.) My friend Jim, I will use only his first name, became a Christian many years ago. There is a good chance, when you meet Jim, you will hear the gospel of Jesus.
I have witnessed this many times, selling the car to the individual comes second, presenting Christ is what really matters to Jim. I have a another friend that I love dearly, Russ. Another radical work of the Holy Spirit, Russ lives the Gospel. The Matthew 25 Gospel, literally. Russ is at the jails, the hospitals, visiting and presenting Jesus everywhere he goes. His love for God, and desire to see everyone come to the knowledge of the truth, is his purpose in life today.
Russ and his wife were vacationing, and his wife decided to sleep in a while, so Russ went to have a bite of breakfast. The restaurant where he sat down to eat was crowded, and a gentleman asked to sit with Russ, who replied, of course. The man, an attorney, began to tell Russ how travel was hard on him and his relationship with his family. Russ said that Jesus is the answer, came out of his mouth before he had time to think. The attorney, stunned for a moment, replied, as I prayed this morning, I asked God for a sign, God has been dealing with my heart for three years about entering the ministry. I am going home and make the plans to be obedient to Him.
Russ has dozens of similar stories, where his zeal for God has led him into supernatural experiemces. Both Russ and Jim have the gift of evangelism. Many have come to Christ from their obedience. Those who received this gift of grace, in turn, may have led others to Christ, that may have led others to Christ, and on and on. Their legacy may reach into every country in the world. Their wives, knowing their committment, have played second fiddle to the Gospel, and share in Jim and Russ’ legacy of service. How enriched is God’s family because of these two servants?
I heard a story some years ago, so the details are somewhat vague, but the gist you’ll get. An auction was held, and an old beat up violin came up for bids. No one even wanted to bid on the beaten, weathered instrument. An elderly man stood up and walked up to the auctioneer’s podium, picked up the violin, took a minute to tune it, and then played masterfully a most beautiful melody that touched every heart in the room. The bids went through the roof, and the violin sold way above its value. What was the difference? Little becomes much when its placed in the Master’s hand.
Paul, and these two modern day apostles, Jim and Russ, were taken by the Master, and their lives have been, and will be played long after they have passed from this life. It may have been the radical gift of grace, it is definitely their obedience, but any of us, all of us, have a gift of service to God’s kingdom. We have to allow the Master, to tune us up, tweak us a bit, and then play our life song through giving ourselves to doing kingdom business…with zeal.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all! Keith.