Paul said, 'I am a Jew, born in Tarsus... and I was brought up and educated here in Jerusalem under Gamaliel. As his student, I was carefully trained in our Jewish laws and customs. I became very zealous to honor God in everything I did, just like all of you today. And I persecuted the followers of the Way, hounding some to death, arresting both men and women and throwing them in prison.'
'As I was on the road, approaching Damascus about noon, a very bright light from heaven suddenly shone down around me.'
Paul was a studious, passionate man: a leading Jew and Roman citizen, a star student of a stellar teacher, a young, upwardly mobile Pharisee, a thoroughly equipped professional... who detested the followers of Christ. He saw them as rebels without a cause and as threats to the laws of Israel.
But as Paul would soon find out, he saw wrong. He met Jesus, Who took away his sight--in essence pressing the reset button. Because Paul's new life was soon to begin.
For the rest of Paul's epic time on earth, his passion was solely focused on Christ. He became God's best traveling salesman: perhaps the most fruitful evangelist the world would ever know (after Jesus).
Paul was a grandly imperfect hero and he evidences two startling truths:
1) Even cruel religious extremists, like the ones committing hate crimes today, can be changed by an encounter with Christ. Therein, no one is beyond redemption. We may condemn their actions, but not them.
2) God picks passionate players for His team. He refocuses their enthusiasm on the good goals He has purposed for them. At the same time, He cuts lukewarm players who are half-hearted in their commitments.
To Be Continued...
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Imperfect Heroes series.