Have you seen the film AS GOOD AS IT GETS? In it Jack Nicholson plays Melvin Udall, a neurotic, rude and insensitive writer who gradually falls in love with a waitress. One day in exasperation at his behaviour, the waitress asks Nicholson’s character to say something loving to her for once.
Melvin thinks for a moment and then says, “You make me want to be a better man” She inspired him to be a better version of himself. Being in a relationship with someone inspired him, I think relationships should always inspire us if they are healthy.
When the Apostle Paul met Jesus, on the Damascus Road I somehow imagine him a bit like Melvin Udall. The picture we get of him in the book of Acts is of an angry young man, determined to do violence to others physically not just verbally. Yet meeting Jesus entering into a relationship with Him, inspired and empowered Paul to be a better man. We are told in Acts 9 just before Saul, as he was then, met Jesus that he was “uttering murderous threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers”.
Yet that self same man went from being consumed by hatred and committed to violence to writing these words:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Cor 13
Just think about that for a moment, the man who had once uttered murderous threats against those he disagreed with went on to pen some of the most famous words on love ever written. If you want evidence that Jesus inspired Paul to be a better man, that the Gospel can change people, you have it right there.
What I find interesting is that just as Jesus inspired and enabled Paul to become a better version of himself Paul developed a deep desire to inspire others to become better people by joining him in following Jesus.
He issued on an invitation to join him in following Jesus, to join him in being inspired to become better, “I want you to pattern your lives after me, just as I pattern mine after Christ.” 1 Cor 11:1
Here is an amazing thought, well it is to me. When we follow Jesus, when we pattern our lives after His and start to become better people, we will find that we inspire others to in the words of Melvin to “want to become better”.
A Christian life should be an inspiring life. Our lives as Christians are to be a living invitation to people who knows us well to become better by following Jesus.
So, who are you inspiring to become better as you follow Jesus in becoming a better version of yourself?