Life’s most consequential decision is about the way we will live, and the path we will travel during our brief time on earth. The Bible often refers to this as the choice of a “way.” Early Christians talked of following Jesus as the “Way”. Jesus actually used the term to describe himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
“The life I now live.” Perhaps you recognize these words as part of the Apostle Paul’s explanation of how he had come to live after he surrendered his life to Christ. The complete idea goes like this, ” The life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20.
“I did it my way.” Recognize the source of those words? These words punctuate the end of each stanza of Frank Sinatra’s 1969 hit, My Way. To me, the song is a powerful message about a man who had overcome life’s challenges and was facing “the final curtain” with grit, pride, and self-importance. This is a statement of defiance, self-dependence, and arrogance. This song was and remains immensely popular. I think the message resonates with lots of folks who think they have everything under control.
What a contrast! Paul’s statement is ” The life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God..” That sounds a lot different from the mantra of this song, ” I did it my way.” I’ve used these contrasting views of life because I think they are the two choices we have. We live life our way, or we live God’s way, the life of trust in Jesus.
For this blog, I’ve chosen to put the spotlight on Paul, one of the most faithful servants of Jesus who ever lived.
“The life I NOW live.” The word “now” indicates present tense, something happening currently but not necessarily in the past. Paul had not always been a follower of Jesus. Looking back, he could agree with the attitude of the My Way song. He was once a prideful, self-reliant, religious, zealous persecutor of those who were followers of Jesus. But something drastically life-changing happened to Paul. Acts 9 recounts his conversion while on the way to Damascus to harass and persecute believers. This event, meeting the Risen Jesus changed his then to now, his past to his future.
All believers have a story about when we came to trust Jesus as our Savior. Mine is not a dramatic one like Paul’s on Damascus Road. I was eleven when I responded to an appeal to accept Jesus at a Vacation Bible School I was attending with my cousin.
That encounter began a process of commitment and recommitment to the Lordship of Christ for well over sixty years. My desire is to be able to say with Paul, “The life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me.”
What is your story? When’s the last time you shared that moment that changed your “then” to “now?”
When you think about it, any choice we make about the way we will live is a faith choice, isn’t it? The critical issue of faith is in whom or what we put our trust. Our faith choice could be described in many ways; atheism, agnosticism, self-reliance, dogged individualism, Satanism, materialism, etc., you name it. The common denominator of each of these is a rejection of Jesus’ rightful place as Lord. The core issue is that the self is in control. This is the whole issue in conversion, the self must be submitted to Christ. Faith must be transferred from whatever we are trusting to Jesus.
Everyone has a faith by which we live. Paul’s life was converted from selfishness to a Christ-focused trust that informed and directed his life from the moment of his conversion until his martyrdom.
When I read the letters Paul left for us, I am stricken by the fact that his life focus was on taking the good news about Jesus to everyone who needed to hear it. The trajectory of his life as an up-and-coming leader in the Jewish hierarchy was transformed into a costly faith that kept him in trouble with the Jewish leaders; beatings, persecution, imprisonment, and death for his devotion to Jesus.
What was it about Christ that convinced Paul to devote his life to him in faithful service? Here’s Paul’s answer, “The life that I now live, I live by faith in the son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me.” Paul took the death, burial, and resurrection personally. His letters reveal he obviously spent lots of time thinking about and allowing the deep love of Jesus to possess him. He was mystified, overwhelmed by the fact that Jesus loved him personally and that his death on the cross was for him, personally for him. Jesus’ love for him won his heart and motivated him to cling to him as the sole reason for his existence.
How would you complete this sentence? ” The life that I now live, I live by…..
Jesus loved you and me so deeply that he gave his life as a sacrifice for us. Does the love of Jesus motivate you to live by faith in him?
I’m including a link for more detail concerning Paul’s background and conversion.https://www.learnreligions.com/conversion-of-paul-700197
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