I Corinthians 15:1-10
1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
9 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. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
This past weekend we celebrated the ministry of Pastor Lauren Christenberry. This coming weekend Pastor Lauren will begin her new appointment as an Associate Pastor at our sister church, First United Methodist Church in Keller, Texas.
In her message this weekend, she highlighted Acts 9, which narrates the conversion experience of Saul. We meet this man at the end of Acts chapter 7 where he is introduced as a persecutor of Christians but after his conversion and under his new name, Paul, he would become one of the most prolific writers and apostles in the early church.
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul shares what might be one of the earliest recorded “affirmations of faith” in which he passes on what he received as “of first importance.” Pastor Lauren highlighted verse 9 from our reading today as an expression of the radical transformation Paul experienced.
“I am the least of the apostles,” Paul writes, “because I persecuted the church.”
And look again at this incredible statement in verse 10.
”But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.”
I love that last phrase and I want you to focus in on it with me today… “his grace to me was not without effect.” In other words, God’s grace wasn’t “wasted” on Paul. It made an immeasurable impact on every moment of life that followed his conversion.
And today, what I want to challenge you to consider is this question:
Can you say the same about the impact grace has had in your life as well?
Has God’s grace had an effect?
Before you find yourself despairing that the change you’ve experienced pales in comparison to Paul’s life, take a moment to make a careful and deliberate evaluation. Keep in mind that with Paul, we have the advantage of knowing his whole story, while the story of your life is still being written even today.
So allow the question to challenge you, but take the time to really think about how your life would be different today if Christ was not and had never had any place in your life’s story.
Take a few extra minutes this morning to really wrestle with that question and be sure to take a moment to also celebrate whatever you might identify today that God has done in your life.
Loving God, today I want to give you thanks for my story. It may not seem to me to be as grand and glorious as the story that another might share, but today Lord I pray that I would never forget that the real value is found in that it is mine, it is real, and it reflects your love for me. Give me an awareness today Lord of how your grace has impacted my life so that I might celebrate the good work you are continuing to do in me this day. AMEN.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.