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Christians - and humans - have a Saul Problem.

You remember him, don't you? Acts introduces us as a "young man" who held the coats for men who were busy stoning Stephen to death.
He began as an enabler. "Hello, I'd hate for you to get your coat bloody, why don't I hold it for you so you can torture this guy more easily. Blood's hard to get out of linen!"
A few chapters later, Saul's tired of enabling and wants to take action, so he gets permission to go lead a personal hunt for suspected Christians so there can be more stoning. He's on his way to Damascus to do this when God appears before him in a blinding vision.
"Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"

And just like that, Saul is changed.
Well, that's not quite accurate. Saul is blinded. He gets led to Damascus where he sits in darkness for three days until he's supernaturally healed. Then, he changes his name to Paul and starts preaching the Gospel.
It takes three days for Saul to transform himself from a murderous abuser to a God-inspired leader who transforms Christianity.

And this is an incredibly huge problem.
Humans aren't formed out of the void in their present form, they're the ongoing process of an incredibly complex network of factors that have shaped them into their current iteration.
We're made up of a diverse and complicated network of beliefs, values, instincts, and habits. Our lives have a lot of momentum to them that's hard to disrupt.
This doesn't mean that change isn't possible! One of the glorious things about being human is that our brains are plastic, and that we are malleable. We can change. We can grow and heal and become different people; better people.

But. It. Takes. Work.
A lot of work. A stupid amount of work.

And this is the danger of Saul.

It makes it seem like all you have to do is have a Revelation and change your name, and you're ready to go. New. Changed. Different and better.
Sadly, as much as it sucks, we humans just don't work like that. We don't change like that.
And while it's one thing to fool yourself on a personal level, to think you've changed and to realize to your horror that you haven't changed as much as you'd like, it's another thing when it comes to leaders and men (it's almost always men, almost always white) of influence.
We'll take predators that we've allowed to become leaders, listen to their tears and stories about their mistakes, and then buy their redemption. They've learned something New. They've had a Revelation. They've Seen The Light.

They've changed.
And we all want to believe it, because we all want to believe that change is possible. And they became leaders in the first place for a reason. They're probably charming, or handsome, or just Exactly-What-We-Expect.
And it's easier to let things go than to challenge them, so before you know it, they've become a leader again.
At my most optimistic, I would say that this is unfair to the Person. They might WANT to change, but they're not ready for this yet. It's like taking a tiger out of the jungle and into a room with teenagers - every instinct it has is poorly shaped to handle this situation.
These new pressures will feel a lot like the old pressures that brought about the mistakes that hurt others. What's more, these new pressures will make change much, much harder. It'll be a distraction at best, and a constant battle at worse. This is far from ideal.
And, on the other end of the spectrum, I would say that this is a sham. They haven't changed internally, they've just changed targets. Tactics.
They want Redemption without being transformed, because they want trust again to leverage that against more vulnerable people. They're addicted to the high of power, of fame, and of influence.
It's irresponsible of us to allow anyone to go from Saul to Paul in three days, three weeks, three months, or three years.
I believe in the power of the Damascus Road Experience. It really can disrupt your life, and lead to a genuine transformation. But this singular inciting incident is the beginning of the road, not the end of it.

You have to do the work.

Your very soul is at stake. Others, too.
And for those of us looking on, we have to continually point to the road of change and tell them to walk. Topple them from their high places of power. Demand humility, and deny them influence.


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