Reading: Acts 9:1-6 (7-20)
I think professional sports have softened our understanding of the impact of Paul’s conversion. All-star, marquee players routinely move from team to team. Some are disappointed, but generally speaking, the receiving team of a rival player is pretty excited about the acquisition.
With the full takeover of celebrity-as-spokesperson, Christians get all wound up every time there are whispers of a popular actor, actress or musical artist possibly having become Christian. The problem with this—when it’s true—is that those people come under immediate pressure to be the new face of Christianity. No one can hold up to that scrutiny or responsibility. They either burn out, fade away, or release three mediocre Bob Dylan records. It’s hard to watch.
So for us, I think it’s hard to appreciate the panic that would have erupted around the rumor that Saul (now Paul) was claiming Christianity. Saul was a leading advocate of killing or arresting the new Christians in bulk. When Stephen was stoned, Saul held the coats. “What new threat is this?” they had to be thinking. The most immediate terror had to be in Damascus. Surely news of his journey preceded him. Ananias is cool as a cucumber about it, somehow. “Sure, God—you know, it’s just that I’ve heard some things.”
Saul proved himself in Damascus, but the disciples in Jerusalem were harder to convince. Can you blame them?
When have you been amazed at someone’s conversion or sudden belief in God?
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