Thursday before Proper 5: Acts 22:6-21
Reading: Acts 22:6-21
We lump Saul/Paul part and parcel with our understanding of Christianity, but he would have been a deeply polarizing mouthpiece of the early church. It would have been difficult—nearly impossible, really—for any of the Jerusalem Christians to bear even the sight of Paul, let alone hear his witness. Paul didn’t murder Stephen, the first Christian martyr, but he was guarding the clothing of those that did while they did it. We say stoning today without really thinking it through—it would be a horrible way to die, and an unimaginable thing to witness. Any association with that would have been unforgivable.
Even if the Jews could get past that single incident, the body of Saul’s work against Christianity would have made his presence completely unwelcome among Jewish Christians. His tireless efforts to destroy Christianity while still in its infancy were widely known. His early efforts after conversion were perceived to be a ruse, a trap to imprison and torture still more Christians.
The impact of Paul’s conversion cannot be overstated. Not only did Christianity gain a voice that would ultimately provide a large portion of its sacred texts, but also it lost a primary aggressor. Eventually the stink wore off and Paul’s voice and message helped carry the early church beyond Jerusalem to the Gentiles.
Have you ever doubted the sincerity of someone’s conversion? Regardless of how it turned out, how do you feel about having those doubts?
Have you ever had a 180° swing in your opinion or a matter of faith? How was this change accepted by others?
RHYTHM is a daily lectionary devotion series in development by Youthworker Circuit. YWC members also receive weekly curriculum sessions for Sunday’s readings. To subscribe to Youthworker Circuit, click here. If you’re new to us, you might like to know more about RHYTHM. You’re also welcome to check out more of our devotions, or come visit us on Facebook!