There is an old adage that goes, “Can’t teach an old dog new tricks!” Perhaps you have heard this, or even dared to use it. Let’s be honest, this is an excuse to not change. Yes, change is hard, but when in your life has change not happened? Life isn’t static and stable, just look back over yours! You are always changing and learning new tricks!
There is a moment in the New Testament that inspires me that we are capable of change and being flexible. In Acts 8:1, at the conclusion of the story of Stephen being stoned for teaching about the way of Christ to a people hard of heart, there is a one liner that functions as the introductory note to Saul, later renamed Paul. It states, “Saul was there, giving approval to his (Stephen’s) death.” He is on the sideline cheering on the sordid state of affairs…the murder of one who taught a different path than the one he was on.
In a sense, Saul has made up his mind. He is inflexible to seeing the world through any other lens than the one he is wearing. He is resolute in his vision of getting rid of those ‘bad’ people, for he has bought into the notion that he is right. And the end result repeats itself—first with Jesus being killed for his teaching, now a follower being killed for teaching. Can’t you just hear the self-justification? “We can’t have false teachers destroying what we have built!” “We don’t want to be reminded of what we have done to others by helping to orchestrate their death!” “We won’t change because you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!”
And yet, the story of Saul is the story of transformative change…or flexibility. He flexes in his beliefs as he encounters the overwhelming awe of God. We’ll dive into that tomorrow, but for today, perhaps you can ponder how resoluteness to my way has brought such harm to our world. Can you see it?