1 Tim. 1:12-14 (ESV)
I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service,  though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief,  and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Paul Gives thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord for giving him strength. Paul realizes that it isn’t his own strength by which he lives in accordance with the glorious gospel and sound doctrine. Paul was not able to recognize the resurrection until it literally knocked him off his ass. Until that point he persecuted the church. Paul says that formerly he was a blasphemer. That is he took the name of the lord in vain. He persecuted the church. He was an insolent opponent. Something tells me Paul was an intense personality, who followed through on his convictions. If he was around today, I doubt many in the church would like to listen to what he would have to say. There are plenty out there who are perfectly comfortable ignoring his letters, though they like to call themselves Christians. Paul would be considered a radical.
Of course people think this is what is wrong with religion. “Believe whatever you want, just don’t take it seriously” is the notion of the day. Interpreted it means don’t believe anything, but what we tell you you can believe. This is the message of the mass media. It isn’t the religion and it’s teachings that are wrong. What is wrong is the fact that you the believer dare to take it seriously. “Fundamentalist” is the smear of smear, and no one really knows what it means. That they apply that term to Muslim terrorists is a good indication they don’t know what they are talking about. I take great umbrage to that. Not that I consider myself a fundamentalist. But that fundamentalist is a term used within Christianity to denote people who if nothing else do take the faith seriously. It is a term that is abused and has lost its original meaning. In fact, most fundamentalists probably don’t even know that the fundamentals are anymore; the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, Virgin Birth, Christ’s death as the atonement for sin, the resurrection of Christ, Christ’s miracles being true. I don’t take issue with any of these, but I do tend to think they miss a lot of what I consider to be fundamental to the faith. The point is though that it is a Christian term and has become a slur against anyone who takes the faith seriously. The problem according to most people is taking the faith seriously.
I don’t think that is the problem. I think the world would be much better off if Christians took their faith with the utmost seriousness. It is not taking your faith seriously that is the problem in this world. Sometimes it just isn’t the seriousness of the person, but the religion they take seriously. The world would be much worse if more Muslims took their faith seriously! I sometimes wonder what makes news correspondents feel so qualified to tell the Muslim world what their faith is, or should be. When we are asking everyone to be moderates, that is not to take their faith seriously, then we might just consider that maybe it is the religion that is bad. But the west has lost so much faith; I don’t think most people can even comprehend what it means to believe. We can’t comprehend why people take their faith seriously. The west thinks everyone should be a materialist, and then just love one another.
Paul understood what it meant to take faith seriously. At one time he persecuted in the name of God, because that is what his religion told him to do. Then he became a Christian, Christ gave him faith and strength in that faith. He did not become less zealous. In fact he may have even become more zealous. It wasn’t zealousy that was the problem. It was the religion he was zealous for. When he became a Christian he didn’t go about trying to imprison people, or fight against Judaism with physical violence. Rather he spoke out, preached, evangelized, he debated. He was also taken in chains, beat, left for dead. He didn’t lose faith. He persevered in faith zealously. One day he was a zealous militant, the next a zealous Christian.