When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer! (Acts 9:26)
For those of us that were raised in the church, it is always exciting to hear about the great testimonies of God’s grace as he changes people’s lives who have been very dark places. Organizations like Teen Challenge continue to bring people the light of Christ, in the midst of their darkness. I love to hear the stories of redemption and change.
Very few were in as dark a place as Saul. Though he had gone through a face to face encounter with Jesus that had changed his life, it was hard for people to get over the fact that just a few years back he was leading the charge to exterminate Christians. Some may have thought his conversion was a rouse to burrow deep into the church so that he could expose the leaders. Many were skeptical of a real change.
I find it interesting that for most of us, we love to hear the stories of others that have gone through great change, but we are skeptical when that person is someone we know. When a family member or lifelong friend goes to the altar it is easy for us to think “I wonder if they mean it” or “will they really change, this time” instead of seeing the step they are taking as miraculous. Their past clouds our vision of their present or future.
Acts 9 27 says, “Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus.” Saul needed Barnabas to vouch for him. His past was speaking too loud for people to see the truth of the present. He needed someone, mature in the faith, to take a stand for and with him.
Instead of being quick to judge, how about we come alongside those that we see pushing for a life change and find a way to walk with them and champion their cause. Let’s stand with them, so that when the storms do come, then maybe they will be able to stand and be changed.