Paul (who was also known as Saul) knew what it meant to be authentically converted. His experience is a model, a plumb line to measure whether our lives are in accord with apostolic reality. Acts 9:1-9 relates how the power of Christ’s resurrection burst into his domain:
“Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say 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.’” (Acts 9:1-6)
Even though the Scriptures tell us “Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples,” Saul himself was fully convinced he was doing God a service. In his eyes, he was an effective minister, upholding truth and following God with all his heart. There are many today who are like him. And it is possible to possess the same pre-converted Saul-like spirit with a Bible in our hands and the word of the “gospel” in our mouths. We can wear the wool of sheep and be as ravenous as wolves in our hearts. The sobering thing is you never realize your own darkness until you see yourself in God’s light. Saul never did, and neither will we, unless we experience God’s grace.
Spiritual leaders endorsed Saul. He was supported by his peers and appreciated by his “denomination.” Many people saw him as a champion of faith. Yet, the Word of God exposed his real nature and actions. He is met with mercy, in the form of confrontation, when “suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.” Oh, for the light of God’s glory to suddenly flash around us! Oh, for God to stop us in our tracks when we are on our own mission!
Prayer: Father, let me know authentic conversion and not mere contentment with the wool of sheep’s clothing.