As I’ve seen a few movies recently (The Magic of Belle Isle, Trouble with the Curve, The Last Song and others – even Beauty and the Beast), I started to reflect on a common plot of these movies. It starts off with the building of a character you’ll want to hate. In the above movies, the bad character was played by Morgan Freeman, Clint Eastwood, Mylie Cyrus and “The Beast” respectively. Abrasive, bad attitude, not very likable at all… The character confirms your assessment of him/her with every action. The character becomes so bad, it makes you cringe. Then, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly and dramatically the character changes and starts to soften their heart. By the end, the character becomes downright likable often bringing some viewers to the point of tears when they consider magnitude of the character’s transformation. It seems that the depth of depravity the character sunk to actually made you rejoice with greater joy when you saw their transformation.
I sometimes wonder if God has the same plot in some of our lives… I’m sure if you’re a Christian reading this, you have people that you’re praying for that they would be saved. Maybe they are very far off from God right now – living “in the world”, maybe even in the depths of depravity and celebrating it, even bragging about it. But the story of their lives is not ended yet. In Romans 8:28 we read that “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Maybe, just maybe, God is letting them stray from Him so that in the end, He will be able to bring glory to Himself by creating another trophy of His grace. Just maybe…
Consider the apostle Paul. He was one of Christianity’s biggest persecutors. In Acts 26:9, when speaking in front of Agrippa Paul said “I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” Likewise, in 1 Corinthians 15:9, he said “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” And in Galatians 1:13, “For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.” In fact in Galatians 1:22-24, he goes on to say “I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: ‘The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’ And they praised God because of me.” I wonder how many people were praying for Paul and hoping that he would be saved and transformed? How sweet do you think it was for those that were believers, knowing of him, and seeing him transformed and born again? It must have been pure elation! Only God could take an enemy of Christ and turn him into one of his leading followers and witnesses.
So, let’s not give up too quickly and become discouraged when those we love are far from Christ. If God could transform Saul of Tarsus into the Apostle Paul, He certainly will have no trouble bringing back those we love who’ve strayed far away!