THE STORY OF JESUS: Acts 21:37 – 22:5
“I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death.” (Acts 22:4)
Paul was a fanatic and a terrorist, killing people in the name of God.
There were families of his victims who lived with the consequences.
No doubt people then struggled with anger and unforgiveness too.
It strikes me here for the first time what this meant for the early church.
Imagine a known terrorist – an ISIS soldier – converting and joining our church.
Known for killing christians, he has a Jesus encounter and changes.
How easily would we welcome him in our church – would we trust him?
And imagine how other ISIS supporters would feel, and would respond?
This is not an exact parallel, but it does make me think about grace.
“I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:16)
Paul is an example that even terrorists and murderers can be forgiven and restored.
The challenge for us as Jesus followers is to extend the same grace.
Try to imagine other examples of ‘worst of sinners’ being welcomed into your church.
What do you sense the Lord saying to you?
Lord, help me to look deep into my own feelings about sinners, both before and after they convert. Help me to see that they need grace too, just like Paul… just like me.