Posted by: mikenicholsblog | September 27, 2015

deeply lost, radically found

How many people are in your world? Oh, I don’t mean that statement in a global sense, but in a personal way. Just how many people reside in your personal world?  Do you spend time on a weekly basis communicating with ten, fifty or a hundred people? Your sphere of influence could be broad or narrow, yet there is one fact I believe to be sad, but also true, for Christ-followers. There is someone in your weekly world who you feel is not a true follower of Christ and probably never will be. You may work with them, spend time together socially, or it could be that this “not interested in Christ” person is a part of your family. We all are guilty of thinking this individual(s) will never come to Christ in salvation. Sadly, we may even have some anti-Christians in our personal world. I wonder how you and I would have classified Saul of Tarsus.

Over the next few articles, we will examine the apostle Paul. Before looking at his life as a man who was used to radically affect the world with the gospel, I felt impressed to view the pre-Paul before the Damascus road experience. Just a thought … if this man, Saul of Tarsus, had resided in your (or my) personal world, would you have mentally classified him as “probably never finding redemption in Christ.” Sadly, I would have!

A journey through passages in the book of Acts gives us an indication of what kind of man Saul of Tarsus was.  He was undeniably a persecutor of Christians. For your personal insight, you may want to look at Acts 7:58; 8:1-3; 9:1-18; 22; 5, 19 and 26:10-11. As Stephen was being stoned, look at the words of Acts 7:58…

Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.

The first verse of the next chapter tells us that Paul approved of the execution of Stephen. In my 21st century mind, I would never look at this man becoming a Christ-follower. But he did! And the world was changed because of it!

Part of my motivation in writing this article was to introduce Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus). Also, I felt it necessary to challenge all Christ-followers about classifying people in our world as “not interested in Christ” and probably never will be.  A personal story will hopefully help convey my challenge. In the late 1990’s, I met a man professionally who was a great guy.  By his own admission, however, he was anything but a Christ follower. He was a hard drinker and lived life by my “not interested in Christ and probably never will be” set of rules. One day in 2004, I got a call from him and he told me he had accepted Christ and needed a mentor. After coming to Christ, he had no one to give discipleship, so he drove about 36,000 miles (his words) listening to Christian radio and when we reconnected, he was a changed man.

In the years since that call, we have talked hundreds of times.  He’s a leader for Christ, a huge witness, and, quite frankly, challenges me, and often puts me to shame with his passion. It’s an amazing story of redemption by our Amazing Savior.

My friend Jim reminds me of Paul — a man deeply lost, but radically found. Who in your world would fit the “not interested in Christ, and probably never will be” category?  Do you believe the deeply lost in your world, can be radically found? Could I ask you to stop right now, and whisper a prayer for that person in your life (whom you’ve mentally viewed as not interested) that needs to be redeemed? – And don’t stop praying!

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