This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.
In the Bible, we read about a man who did great violence to others. This man threatened murder, violently persecuted and tried to destroy others, and helped arrest people because of their religious beliefs and sent them to their death. From these descriptions, found in Acts 8, 9, & 26, and Galatians 1, we wouldn’t be far off if we called this man a religious terrorist.
This man was named Saul, later known as Paul–the same Paul who became a life-and-safety sacrificing witness and missionary for the very religion he sought to destroy; the same Paul who wrote a large part of Christian scripture.
How did Saul the persecutor of Christians become Paul the Christian? Acts 9:1-9 describes it for us: While Saul traveled toward Damascus, Jesus showed up with a flash of light and radically changed the radical’s life.
Saul wasn’t looking for salvation. He thought he had it all figured out. He thought followers of Jesus were a threat that needed to be wiped out. He thought Jesus was simply a man who died on a cross. Then he met Jesus, the resurrected man who is also God the Son, and received his grace.
Paul’s story reminds us that this side of death and eternity, no one in the world is out of the reach of the God’s saving grace offered in Christ. Not you, not me, not your mean neighbor, not your crass coworker, not the bully, not the maligned politician, not the terrorist.
This is why the call of Jesus is to go and make disciples of all nations. The church, as a whole, is to strive to take the gospel into every corner of the earth and share Jesus with anyone who will listen. Sometimes that means the nice couple next door who smiles and waves every time they see you, and sometimes that means the person who would love to kill you for your faith if they had the chance.
God offers grace to all, but they will only know it if God’s people will share. Don’t be afraid of the Sauls, as they very well may become the Pauls.