Yes I know, this is a bit late for a New Year post, but the idea of starting a blog for Kids’ Club didn’t occur to me right away at the beginning of the year, so better late than never! I gave up making New Year resolutions years ago because I never see them through. However, the very first session of Kids’ Club this year saw me telling the children about how Saul in the Bible became a whole new person when he met Jesus, so maybe there’s hope for me yet – if he can change, maybe I can change too – be a new me and keep going with this blog! Enough about me, and who’s this Saul you’re talking about, you ask, so in case you’ve forgotten the story, here’s a brief summary…
Saul → Paul
After Jesus dies on the cross, his followers are being picked on and a zealous young man named Saul is breathing out murderous threats against them (yes, that’s what it says in the Bible – not such nice things are recorded in there, but at Kids’ Club we tend to use the child-friendly version). One day, Saul’s on his way to Damascus to arrest Christians to put in prison, when a bright light knocks him down on the ground, and Jesus speaks to him in that light, asking him why he’s hurting his mates. Saul thinks, who the heck are you and what do you want? But out loud he says, “Who are you, Lord?”
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Then Jesus tells Saul to go into town and wait for someone to come and tell him what to do. When Saul gets up, he’s blind, and has no choice but to trust those around him to lead him by the hand. After three days, someone indeed comes and puts his hands on Saul’s eyes. Something like scales fall from them and now he can see! Saul believes in Jesus, changes his name to Paul, gets baptised and does an about-turn immediately and tells everyone to follow Jesus.
(If you wish to read all about it, it’s in Acts chapter 9 in the New Testament of the Bible.)
A new creation
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
– 2 Corinthians 5:17
Now that’s a dramatic experience in St Paul’s life, hence we’ve all heard of the phrases “road to Damascus experience”, “seen the light”, “scales fall from my eyes”… and whilst it’s great to have such life-changing and illuminating moments, I find myself wondering how I’m going to tell the kids to change – no, to even want to change, when life at the moment seems so good. We’re alright people; we’re fine as we are. Let’s face it, most kids in our little village haven’t had the chance to mess up big time (yet!) and let’s hope that they never will. That said, we all want to do better, and school and parents tell us to (which is a good thing), and be better people. But haven’t we all thought, “Blah blah blah, yes I know…” and life just carries on.
So, do we, or do we not want to change? When we think of being a changed person, or a new you and me, we might think of a caterpillar changing into a beautiful butterfly. It’s a powerful and dramatic transformation – they love that image in advertising; teachers teach metamorphosis at school (we all love “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”). And that’s what I did with the children at Kids’ Club – we made paper plate butterflies (If you’re interested in our activities, I have just put that in a separate post) to illustrate what St Paul says in his letter to the Corinthians,
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17
Yes, St Paul should know, shouldn’t he, of what it’s like to act on something you’ve believed in, thinking you’ve been doing the right thing all along, until one day you see things differently. You’re really not a bad person – you just haven’t had your beliefs challenged. Here’s what I find encouraging – Saul, or Paul, didn’t go looking for that life-changing encounter. God comes to him through Jesus. Also, your basic DNA doesn’t need to change – a caterpillar has the same stuff as a butterfly, just that at the right time, you’ll know you need some time to hide away in a cocoon, do a bit of struggling, and emerge having wings to fly. I am still me, you are still you, just God being involved in our lives. Now ain’t that beautiful?!