Jonathan Paul Simmonds. Growing up in a household like mine, this was quite the name to live up to. I grew up hearing the stories of the Bible. So I knew early on that Jonathan was the best friend of the future King David. Not only was he a great friend, but he was one of the most loyal friends that anyone could ever have. I also picked up early on that Paul was the name of the guy who was responsible for most of the maps in the back of my Bible. Paul traveled a ton just to preach the Gospel. It took me a while before I realized that Paul had not always been Paul. He was once a man named Saul who had a horrendous past. In Acts 13, we read of the first time Saul started going by Paul. Check it out:
4 So Barnabas and Saul were sent out by the Holy Spirit. They went down to the seaport of Seleucia and then sailed for the island of Cyprus. 5 There, in the town of Salamis, they went to the Jewish synagogues and preached the word of God. John Mark went with them as their assistant.
6 Afterward they traveled from town to town across the entire island until finally they reached Paphos, where they met a Jewish sorcerer, a false prophet named Bar-Jesus. 7 He had attached himself to the governor, Sergius Paulus, who was an intelligent man. The governor invited Barnabas and Saul to visit him, for he wanted to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas, the sorcerer (as his name means in Greek), interfered and urged the governor to pay no attention to what Barnabas and Saul said. He was trying to keep the governor from believing.
9 Saul, also known as Paul, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he looked the sorcerer in the eye. 10 Then he said, “You son of the devil, full of every sort of deceit and fraud, and enemy of all that is good! Will you never stop perverting the true ways of the Lord? 11 Watch now, for the Lord has laid his hand of punishment upon you, and you will be struck blind. You will not see the sunlight for some time.” Instantly mist and darkness came over the man’s eyes, and he began groping around begging for someone to take his hand and lead him.
12 When the governor saw what had happened, he became a believer, for he was astonished at the teaching about the Lord.
You see Saul's name brought up all kinds of emotions and fears among Christ Followers. Before his conversion to Christ he led the persecutions against the early church.
What do people feel when they hear your name? Do they think of you as someone full of kindness and compassion? If not, it is never too late to begin the journey towards reconciling your past mistakes and attitudes. That is what Jesus is best at!
With sincere love for each of you,