Do you know anyone who had an instant conversion? I think of Saul and the radical step he took when Jesus appeared to him. Saul thought that he had the truth. He thought that he was upholding it against a schismatic sect. I wonder if his change of heart was made so easily, because he was already seeking the truth. As a Jew, he knew that he was awaiting the Christ, the Messiah, and he recognized the truth in the bright flash of light and the answer to his question: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.” Saul, whom we know as Saint Paul, wanted to do what was right, thought that he was doing it, but was willing to change the moment he recognized his mistake.
This is clear in his letter to the Philippians: “If any other man thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law a Pharisee, as to zeal a persecutor of the church, as to righteousness under the law blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” (Phil 3:4-7)
At the moment of his conversion, Saint Paul knew who Jesus was. He had spent his whole life learning the truths of his faith, and because he was so accustomed to the truth, he recognized it when he sought it.
We, too, should never stop seeking to know the truth more fully. The more we learn about our faith, the more familiar we will be with the truth, and the more easily we will be able to recognize it and accept it in our lives. Just as we develop habits to overcome our vices and become virtuous, we can be in the habit of seeking the truth. Then when we are presented with hard truths about our selves, we can make the immediate necessary change.
For example, it is really easy for me to get into habits that are not always good for me, and often my husband points them out. Now, I can respond by recognizing the truth of what he says and working to change my ways or I can respond by ignoring the truth and persevering in my faults. God wants us to be so open to Him and the truth that we recognize when our actions and our hearts need to be converted. We need to strive every day for that deeper conversion. And like Saint Paul, we must do it through prayer, and recognize that we cannot do anything without Christ.
It is so easy to deny the truth about ourselves and justify our actions. In what ways do you need to humble yourself before God and seek His grace to change?
Susanna Spencer once studied theology and philosophy, but now happily cares for her three adorable little girls and her dear husband. You can find out more about her here.