Firm in his belief that he was serving God, Paul was pursuing and persecuting Christians as far away as Damascus, a six-day journey. One saint in Damascus knew of his reputation and feared his coming, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem” (Acts 9:13). But on the road to Damascus, God confronted Paul. Paul had thought Jesus a fraud, when from heaven, Jesus spoke to Saul, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5). Oops. Paul met Jesus and his life turned upside down–which was actually right-side up.
I came home from college the summer following my freshman year and ran into a high school friend named John, but we called him “Animal.” An all-city nose guard, he was crazy on and off the football field. A wicked wit, he often spoke in rhyme, funny and filthy. “Hey Animal,” I smiled, anticipating a barrage of profanity, blasphemy, and debauchery. Instead, I got Grace. I got the Gospel. I got to hear about his friend, Jesus Christ. “John, what happened?”
“I got Jesus.” And Jesus got John.
Paul got the Gospel and Jesus got Paul. Repentance means to turn around, go the opposite direction. Paul repented. “All who heard him were amazed and said, ‘Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name?’ But Paul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ” (Acts 9:21-22). Nice people might make nice Christians, but watch what happens when God gets ahold of a person of unbridled passion.
It’s amazing grace, my God. I was a sinner, and You changed me. Now, I am a saint. May I never forget the transformation, and may I never tire of telling the story.
The goodness, the righteousness, the holiness of Your Son is now mine. I still sin, I know I do. But no longer am I a sinner. I am a child of God, not by anything I have done, but by the work of Jesus Christ. May the passion I used to display toward worldliness and wickedness be given to godliness all the more.