The first thing that hit me about this reading is how passionate Saul is. He welcomed his heart to the Lord and three days later he was preaching valiantly in the churches around Damascus. It really makes me wonder what we could accomplish is everyone had the same sort of spirit that Saul has. Image what the world would be like if all of us could love the Lord so completely and so unconditionally.
I also find it interesting that the other disciples didn’t trust Saul. After everything they had seen the Jesus do (bring people back from the dead, turn water in to wine, even rise from his own grave) they couldn’t believe that a non-believer would turn to God and so suddenly be next to them preaching like an old friend. However, I think there is a lot to be said for Saul. I’ve been a Christian for quite some time now and I was still terrified to write this devotional today. Talking to other people about my Jesus is something that does not come naturally to me. And maybe it’s because I have had such a “comfortable” relationship with Jesus for such a long time that I can’t image anything else. Whereas Saul, who was brought to the Lord in an act of awesome power, pain, and fear, knows what it’s like to live without Jesus. And now that he has this new chance at life with Jesus, he is psyched about it! In my copy of The Remix Bible, the terminology they use in Acts 9:22 is that he “plows straight into the opposition, disarming the Damascus Jews and trying to show them that his Jesus was the Messiah.” Plows through the opposition. That’s fire. That’s passion. I think we could all learn a thing or two from this newbie.
Lastly, as doubtful as they were at first, the disciples had Saul’s back when the going got tough. In Acts 9:28-31 they saved him from the death threats in Damascus and got him safely out of the area. The disciples gave up their own questions and their own insecurities about Saul and instead put their whole trust in the Lord. Before, they were not sure if he could be trusted, but the Lord works in wonderful ways and brought Barnabas into the picture. Barnabas told the disciples that Saul was to be trusted, and, although they might have questioned it for themselves, they trusted in what God had to say. What a beautiful thing. I think we could all make our lives a little more like this chapter in Acts by giving thanks to God just one extra time a day, and letting Jesus take the wheel (FIGURATIVELY OF COURSE!!) instead of making all of the decisions for ourselves.