Murderer to missionary. Monster to minister. Mad man to a man of God- Acts Chapter 9
The early church faced a serial killer. Saul was kicking doors down, eager to kill the Lord's followers Acts 9:1, and if he couldn’t kill them, he wanted them in chains. Innocent blood was shed, and it was all over Saul’s hands, and he was thirsty for more. So, imagine his shock to have the one he is trying to exterminate, blind him by the light. I’m pretty sure Saul peed a little from that encounter with Jesus.
How does one reconcile this? Saul believed a lie so fiercely that anything that contended with it was snuffed out. However, he was forced to face a truth he wasn’t prepared to believe, and he had to confront his faulty theology. He stirred the pot of persecution, and he would soon find himself in the kettle.
In comes Ananias- Can you imagine being called upon by God to deliver a message to the one who was leading murderous forces and asked to face the king of persecution? Can you envision swallowing the truth God was feeding you; that said villain was God’s chosen instrument to take the message to the gentiles and to kings as well as to the people of Israel. Act 9:15
Do you think Ananias felt a speck of pleasure when he was told Saul must suffer for the sake of Christ? We have no way of knowing what Ananias experienced; I just try imagining what it must have felt like to be assigned to public enemy number one and speak the words “Brother” and believe that Jesus was not only changing Saul’s heart but sending him out to kings! The conversion of a monster to a man of God was miraculous.
I recently watched a documentary called Free Burma Rangers. In the movie, a young man was captured by the enemy and forced to be a child soldier. He shared his story of slaughtering women and children in detail. When he turned himself into the mission leader, who led the FBR, the soldiers he was once fighting against were faced with the giant of forgiving a “Saul.” This boy used to be one of them, but he was brainwashed to kill, and the blood on his hands was of his people. Now he was standing before his people, asking for forgiveness. Though it was hard to do, they forgave and baptized their enemy, who they now called brother and friend. I wept as I watched this young man understand grace and watch as grace was offered to someone who destroyed so many lives. I have a lump in my throat thinking about it.
This is what happened to Saul. He believed a lie so fiercely; he defended it with hate, rage, and murder. The scales fell off Saul’s eyes that day, and the ones he was trying to kill were now baptizing him. And He was soon running with the disciples for the cause of Christ.
I would love to write more on this chapter, but I feel we need to stop and ponder this section first. The part of a mad man turned man of God, and the grace it took to give him the space of grace to be able to answer the call.