What could a dark skinned, curly haired man wearing sandals have in common with a fair skinned, blonde haired gal who says "Y'all"? Not much, or so I would have thought. But the more I learn of Paul in the New Testament the more similarities I see in that analogy.
Paul, or as I should say Saul, was a man steeped in religion and tradition (think "Fiddler on the Roof"). He prided himself on just how many rules he could keep and how methodically he could do things. And all of this was not just some obsessive-compulsive tendency. It was his legacy, his religion, his hope of salvation.
And what about that southern girl? Well, chances are she comes from a long-line of whatever she comes from. She grew up in a home where "It's always done this way" and "saying Grace" were frequently heard. She probably also grew up in church, cutting her teeth on the same pews that her grandparents sat in while her parents got married.
Now in the south, we know how to be nice…or as we say, "nas". We are good girls who don't sass our Mamas and hug our Daddies. We are kind to others and say "Yes Ma'am" and "Yessir". But to what avail? I fear that for many, such a life as this, steeped in tradition and church just as was Saul's, is seen as their legacy, their religion, their hope of going to heaven.
The truth is, all that gets you nowhere except a name in the community and a second helping of dinner. Being good is not good enough with God. Church-going does not equate to heaven-going. Why? Because it is ALL about Jesus. Just as Saul discovered, there is something transforming about the gift of grace that God gave each of us through His son. Now it is no longer about being good or going to church; it is about faith and a relationship with the man who is dying to save your soul. This encounter with Christ is so transforming that even Saul's name, his identifying label, was changed (to Paul). He could no longer be called the same thing anymore; the old had passed away and the new had come.
So how about you? Do you need to break away from your past? Do you need to rethink your religion? Let the transforming power of Christ be yours as you meet Him on your Damascus road.