By Zach Wood
As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice says to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" "Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. "Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."
If there was anyone that was radically changed from one extreme to the other, it was the Apostle Paul. One of the most profound and powerful writers of the New Testament went from a life of killing Christians to becoming a bold man fired up for the Kingdom! When I read the story of Paul's conversion, it is truly amazing. Saul had one thing in mind and it was to stop Christians and do it by killing them. People were terrified of him because of what he was doing and what all he kept planning to do. However, God stopped him in his tracks on the way to Damascus and got a hold of him. Saul had an encounter with the Living God that would change his life forever.
When I read this story, I think to myself, "God, why in the world would you choose someone who was killing Your people?" The answer is clear to me. God is in the business of changing lives. The Apostle Paul is an amazing example of what God can do through someone to change their life. I am amazed at the way God uses people to do extraordinary things, like He did through Paul. I look at my own life and I am so amazed that He still uses me. God wants to use you to change otherís lives. You just have to be willing and He will do extraordinary things through you.
One thing I have always struggled with is looking at people who seem very evil and mean and think, "They will never change. There is no hope for them." Instead, I should lift them up in prayer and ask God to do a work in them to change their lives. And, if I really want to take a risk, I could pray and ask that He in some way use me to minister to them. Is that not what God wants to do through us? He desires to use us to change other's lives. We communicate the love of God and He does the rest. He speaks to their heart and convicts them when the time is right.
I confess that I have looked at people before and think that they do not deserve God's change in their lives. I sometimes think they have done so many horrible things that they do not deserve God's Love and His forgiveness. When I think that way, I have gone way too far. I have to remember that I never deserved what God did for me and I have to realize that God saved me from the sinful life I onced lived. He changed my life.
I encourage you to read through Saul's conversion in Acts 9 and carefully study what happend to him and how people around him reacted. The Disciples were a little scared to be around him. He had a changed life, but it took time for people to really believe he had changed from the life he once lived. Once people saw his changed life, he impacted so many people.
The next time you are tempted to judge someone and feel they do not deserve The Cross and His forgiveness, just remember the Grace, Mercy, Love and Forgiveness that was extended to you. God is in the business of changing lives.