Paul is an outstanding example of something we all ought to practice more: changing our minds. And those Christians who once fear, then joyfully accept him model this amazing virtue too. Our world pressures us to take sides. We’re taught, “Decide what you believe and never back down about it.” Refusing to tolerate those who believe differently is often viewed as a sign of strong faith. Faltering or considering someone else’s point of view is often seen as a sign of weakness.
Paul doesn’t hide the story of who he once was—he details it. The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy (v. 23, NIV). Paul changed his mind in a big way. And his willingness to shout it from the rooftops causes others to change their minds as well. And they praised God because of me (v. 24, NIV). Paul allowed God to change his mind, even though he’d been so certain of his convictions that he had pursued Christians and watched them being killed! Later, those who received him after hearing his full story let God alter their understanding in radical ways too.
Admitting that we have been wrong, even when the details aren’t as dramatic as those in Paul’s story, is difficult. But instead of seeing this as weakness, let’s recognize the vulnerability and humility that it takes to change our minds. Let’s see these as the incredible strengths that they are. Our whole lives are intended to be a journey of Christian faith, in which we strive each day to be better followers of Jesus. How can we continue to learn if we believe we’ve already arrived? How can we receive new truths from God if our hardened hearts are not open to them? Let Paul’s life and testimony remind us of our calling to keep our hearts open to where the Spirit is leading. We are never finished products.
Whose stories might God want you to hear this week? What obstacles keep us from considering other points of view?
God, remind us that we don’t hold the truth, but you do. May we constantly seek truth, justice, peace, and love—wherever that journey takes us. Amen.