Grace to you!
Let me share a bible story of a case of conversion of a known fanatic and from that story suggest some keys to converting a fanatic. The story is popularly called The Conversion of St. Paul as recorded in Acts 9:1-22 and also retold by Paul himself in Acts of the Apostles 22:3-16.
St. Paul used to be called Saul before he was converted to Christianity. He was a Jew and a Pharisee. Pharisees are those who believed in the strict observance of the Law of Moses. Paul was also a Patriot, a zealous defender of the faith of the Jews and a renowned attorney, who studied under Gamaliel, known during his time as the best and most respected Professor of Law. Paul was from a semi-wealthy family and grew up in a neighborhood that could be compared to living in the Silicon Valley of California. However, he was a fanatic.
The result of Paul’s fanaticism led to violence, the first public violent persecution of Christians.
Engaging Paul in an argument was not an option for the believers. Nevertheless, the believers had a powerful tool to engage him – prayer. They prayed for his conversion. Finally, on the way to Damascus, to carry out the persecution of Christians, God intervened and touched the heart of Paul, ultimately leading to his conversion. He, who used to persecute Christians, became a firm believer in the Lord. Nothing is impossible for God.
One of the keys to conversion is prayer. Conversion can only happen by the grace of God. Believers would be making a big mistake if they suppose conversion of people who are fanatical about erroneous beliefs is due to the sophisticated nature of their Christian argument. These are good, don’t get me wrong, but actual change of heart is God’s grace acting in the soul. So, spend more time praying for the fanatic than arguing with him.
There are many other keys to conversion, like speaking from love, witness of life, but accompanying the person through prayer, through spiritual support avails much.
Do you know some people hard to convince about the way of the Lord, try praying for them; try loving them and try speaking words inspired by the love of God. God, the fountain of love, may stir their hearts and bring conversion.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.