Saul was the worst of the worst. He was the most notorious persecutor of the early church. He was the one who made it his personal mission to stop people from proclaiming the name of Christ. He was willing to do what it took to prevent the disciples from fulfilling their mission.
Yet, in Saul we have the greatest story of transformation that we find in not just Acts, but all of Scripture. In Acts 9, Saul is met by the presence of Christ and it transforms him from a persecutor to a believer. He is transformed from being one its biggest critics to one of its strongest advocates.
It was a deep sense of renewal that birthed a new life in what was. Saul was no longer his old self. Because he had met Christ on the road to Damascus, he had become a new person.
This truth is as real today as it was then. When we experience Christ’s presence, we are met by a spirit of transformation that renews our life. We become closer to God and our relationship is strengthened when we meet Christ.
It is an experience that we cannot deny anyone to feel. Saul’s transformation is a reminder that all people are welcomed to a relationship with the Lord. If the biggest persecutor of the church can be transformed into a believer and someone who desires to follow Christ, then what does this say to the people in our neighborhoods and communities? The love of Christ is available to all people. This includes the middle class suburbanite, the rich, the poor, the drug dealer, the alcoholic, the abuser, the rejected, the neglected, the criminal, the murder, and so many others.
There is no one that is not welcomed and invited to experience the love of Christ. We cannot prevent others from feeling Christ’s love. Like Ananias, we must be willing to go and share the gospel with even those people whom we may struggle to like or relate to.
What does this mean for us as we strive to be the church today? Are we the church that truly invites all people to hear God’s love for them?