In my family, we enjoy watching videos from a group of guys who call themselves “Dude Perfect”. If you’ve never watched their trick shots, comedy skits, or competitions, I think that it’s worth checking out.
One of the things that Dude Perfect is known for is their unusual sports skills. In addition to making all sorts of crazy trick shots on camera, they have also leveraged their athletic capabilities to break world records. Usually, though, when the official from the Guinness Book of World Records shows up, the record is going to be pretty goofy, like the highest basketball shot made (which ended up being done from the top of of a building), the most pop cans opened with one hand (or the most eggs smashed with a big toe) in a minute, or the farthest blindfolded backhand basketball shot.
These guys have the certificates to prove that they have set world records, but you probably won’t see them at the Olympics. Still, I have zero world records to my name, so I give them credit!
In another era, there was a guy who was the best at doing what he did (and no, for you Marvel fans, I’m not talking about Wolverine). The apostle Paul wrote about his past to another pastor, named Timothy:
This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.
1 Timothy 1:15-16 NLT
Before Paul met Jesus Christ, he was really good at what he did. He had been trained by an elite teacher in a particular religious group (the Pharisees), and was actively going out and fighting back against what he believed to be heresy, as people followed and taught about Jesus.
One day, though, Paul met Jesus. Jesus had been crucified, raised from the dead, and then – after being witnessed by many people – returned to Heaven. After that, Jesus appeared to Paul to explain the reality of His existence and purpose to Paul. During this encounter, and later experiences, Paul learned that he had been accomplishing what that he – and certainly some of those around him – believed to be great things, but they were all achievements for the wrong side. He was persecuting – rather than joining – those who had the truth.
What did Paul do, though?
Well, once he learned the truth, I suppose that he could have chosen to go along with his old crowd, and not changed his behavior. He didn’t do that, though.
He could have accepted the truth from Jesus, but sunk into isolation. Having known the facts about his past, Paul could have just moped around and had a pity party for himself, regretting the time he had wasted. He didn’t do that, either.
Instead, having realized the truth, Paul became one of the most powerful messengers of the gospel of Jesus of the first century (and perhaps even since then). More than that, Paul used where he had come from as proof that anyone – even terrible sinners like himself – could be redeemed by God, all to the glory of God through Jesus Christ.
If there was an award for biggest change made by God in one’s life, Paul was aiming for that record, but he wasn’t taking the credit. So, if you feel like you’ve been setting records for the wrong team, as you strive to do your best but continue to fall short, let Jesus make the same change in your life as He did in Paul’s. Our best skills and efforts aren’t going to earn our way to Heaven, but with Jesus’ salvation and help, we can set the kinds of records that have eternal benefits in the lives of others.
Going back to the guys in Dude Perfect, I learned something interesting about them. While researching their group a while back (whether before agreeing to watch them in concert at my son’s request, or maybe just wanting to learn more about who he was watching online), I happened to read their “About” page , which specifically gives credit to God and glory to Jesus Christ. As a result, I don’t mind sharing a link to their site:
Like these guys, and Paul, may we strive to be the best that we can be at following Jesus Christ.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.