The article below is from a Brazilian pastor called Caio Fábio who’s a follower of the spirituality of Jesus Christ and, as such, non-religious. He’s been an inspiration to me.
“It is amazing how the God of all Grace picks up what is good-goodness in us but is being used in a bad way, and by His love transforms it in good-goodness—at least for those who want to see it.
Paul is a good example of this.
He has strategic vision to the point of keeping the clothes of the ones who stoned Stephen.
He is educated to the point of being ahead of others of his age in his generation.
He is articulate and reliable to the point of obtaining a recommendation letter from the Jewish authorities to imprison the ones “who belonged to the Way” 1 who lived in Damascus.
He was stubborn and stiff-necked in his goals to the point of persecuting the ones “of the Way”, even making them blaspheme.
He has mobility and independence in his existence to the point of not being content enough in persecuting the ones of the Way in Israel; he goes hunt them in Damascus, Syria.
He is zealous to the point of taking offense at the faith of the ones of the Way as one would take offense at a blasphemy said against God.
He dreams of the purification of his parents’ faith, and for this reason he persecutes the worst threat his tradition had ever faced: the appearance of the ones of the Way.
But he is reached out by God’s love on the way to a gentiles’ land. He believes by himself, and with independence he goes to the Arabic desert to meditate. He goes deeply and sincerely into the Scripture, which he knew since his childhood, and in it he finds very explicitly what Jesus already had revealed “on the way”. As a free man, Paul goes on his way, not even returning to Jerusalem or to the apostles; and as a man of motion, he goes on to the ends of the earth as a true and wandering Hebrew. As he had been zealous of the law, he became a lover of Grace; as an ex-persecutor, he was able to stand up to persecutions himself. Being stubborn, he did not get intimated; being full of dreams, he dreamed and lived his dream of love for Christ.
A man who was found in the mobility of his way outside of his own boundaries, daring go further. Being inflexible in his goals, he becomes a slave to God’s love and sees all the previous energies in himself being transformed into a loving passion for the world; and he does not fear to live exiled from his own people because he was the first apostle to treat the world as his own parish.
For better or for worse—for good or for evil—we are who we are.
Yes, before good and evil become a choice or an action of ours, we are ourselves.
Yes, we are as a being before good and evil.
There is a “self” in me that can love and be pleased with God’s will. However, its flow of energy goes through “the sin that lives in me”. This is where “the two ways” are—at the crossroads of the heart.
The same man, the same personality traits, the same essence… and two totally different products.
Mindset is a word that has a big existential meaning to Paul, according to Romans 8.
The essence is there …the rest is the mindset … yes, where our minds are set out.
Inside us, every day, lights visit us…
The way to Damascus happens on the ground of our hearts…
But not always we surrender to the light that dazzles us on the way, and we keep going with scales in our eyes.
Paul lets us see that there is nothing which one day was used for evil in us that cannot be transformed into virtue, according to Grace.
Paul was the same. The new mindset was determined by the Light.
Such revelations happen more commonly on the way—where life happens.
Whoever received Christ’s revelation no longer knows the way back.
Whoever used to hate out of zealousness of God now loves all humankind passionately, and knows that hatred is a blasphemy.
Look carefully into your junk—your treasure is in it.
In Him, in whom everything becomes a treasure.”
From the original: “O SEU MELHOR ESTÁ NO SEU PIOR”
Translated by Sara Machado – Massachusetts, USA
Revised by F. R. Castelo Branco | May 2007
1 Acts 9:2 – NVI
2 Idem, NKJV