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I know a man, who was once a pretty bad person. He drank to excess. He did drugs. He sold drugs. He tells a story about planning to rob another drug dealer, and maybe, even, killing that drug dealer. (Neither actually took place.)
One day, someone gave him a book that describes what the Bible says about the future, and the final days before Jesus' return. While reading the book, he saw a connection between the Bible, and current events. And he had an epiphany. If what the Bible says about current events is true, maybe what it says about everything is true!
He became very conscious of his sin. And he became very conscious of his Saviour. He gave his allegiance to Jesus. He changed the way he lived to follow God's way.
I know another man, who, when he was nine years old, became aware there was a God. He was real. He was true. He was the Creator. He was the King. Which meant he was the Final Authority. Which meant for life to be real, meaningful, and in agreement with the Truth, he need to be on God's side. He need to get in line with who God was, and what God said.
If you would have asked him if he did wrong things, he would have said yes. But, at nine years old, he was not conscious of sin. But, he was conscious of God. So, he gave his allegiance to Jesus. And he chose to follow God's way.
And then, there was Paul. Paul was a Pharisee. Pharisees seemed to be hyper-religious Jews. In the Scriptures, God tells Israel that if they did not obey his commands, one of the results would be getting conquered by foreign powers. And they had been conquered by Assyria, Babylon, and, currently, Rome. So, God must not be happy with them, because they were not obeying him. So, they came up with a system, that if they kept it, they were confidant they would please God.
The system had 614 laws. Some were laws written in Scripture. Some were clarifications of God's law. For example, God commanded the people keep the Sabbath holy. Part of keeping the Sabbath holy was not working on the Sabbath. So, if you were a farmer, do you feed your cows on the Sabbath? If you have to go somewhere, how far can you walk, before it comes work? (Apparently, it's 2000 cubits. Or 3500 feet. Or 1070 meters.)
And Paul kept the system. Paul writes of himself, that he was "righteous according to the Law." Until Jesus rocked Paul's life on the road to Damascus, he viewed himself as being right with God, as keeping the Law. He would probably say that he was not perfect. But when he failed, he followed God's procedure, and so, was right with God.
But he did get flatttened by Jesus. He saw God, and God's expectations, in a totally new light. He gave his allegiance to Jesus. He changed the way he lived to follow God's way.
In my three stories, we have three different responses to sin, right, and wrong. We have three different, initial responses to God, and God's expectations. We have three different ways these men connected to Jesus. But all three chose to give allegiance to Jesus. All three chose to walk in a way that followed God's way.
All three walked different paths, but God is flexible enough, and capable enough, to meet anyone, anywhere they are, and to reveal his presence, and his love, to them. And he can lead anyone on their unique path of following him, and filling their place in his family.