By Lynn Jones
One observer noted that if you have a reputation as an early riser you can sleep till noon. That is probably true. Once people form an opinion, it is often difficult for them to change their opinion.
One of the reasons for that is our natural resistance to change. We like continuity. Drastic changes upset our world and make us re-order it. So, one of the ways that we cope with that is by resisting any change that comes. That includes changing our opinions of people.
Paul ran into that problem in his own life. Paul left Jerusalem for Damascus as one man, and he returned to Jerusalem as a different man. The thing that produced the difference was his encounter with Christ on the Damascus Road. In that encounter, the appearance of the living Christ challenged every belief that Paul had. He had been convinced that Christ was dead. Now he discovered that He was alive. This meant that the Christians who proclaimed His resurrection were right and that Paul and others who opposed them were wrong. As a result of this encounter, Paul moved from opposing Christ to receiving Him as Savior and Lord.
All went well until he returned to Jerusalem. When he presented himself to the church in Jerusalem as a Christian, they were suspicious. They had Paul down as an enemy of the church, and they found it difficult to change their opinion.
That is our tendency. We find it difficult to change. We are like the guy who loaned some money to a fellow whom he knew. When it came time for the man to repay the money, no money was forthcoming. The man who had loaned the money concluded that the man was a deadbeat. He wrote him off as being a person of no value. A few days later, the man who owed the money saw his creditor on the street and pulled the money from his pocket to repay the loan. The man who had loaned the money refused to take it. He said, “It would be easier for me to be out the money than to go to the trouble of changing my mind about you.”
That’s the way the folks in Jerusalem were about Paul, and that’s the way we tend to be about people around us. At that point in Jerusalem, Barnabas stepped forward. He told how Paul had been changed by Christ and had preached in Damascus the good news of the gospel. The folks in Jerusalem were persuaded to change their minds about Pa
One man said that the wisest person that he knew was his tailor. He said, “He never assumes that I am the same size that I was when he saw me last. He always takes new measurements.” We need to be willing to take new measurements of the people around us.
Lynn Jones is a retired pastor who lives in Oxford. He does supply preaching for churches in his area and often serves as an interim pastor. Jones is also an author, has written two books and writes a weekly newspaper column. He may be contacted at: email@example.com.