Scripture: Acts 9:19b-31
Key verse: (26) When he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple.
Reflection: Saul’s encounter with the Lord on the Damascus road changed his life. He was transformed from a faithful Jew who was persecuting the followers of Jesus into a faithful follower of Jesus. My Bible has the heading “The Conversion of Saul” for that story but the word “conversion” is never used in the story or in Paul’s retellings of what happened. (Saul = Paul in case you didn’t know!)
Perhaps there are several conversions going on in this chapter. Saul “converted” to believe Jesus was the Messiah, God’s Son. In today’s passage, the disciples in Jerusalem “convert” in their understanding of Saul. I can’t imagine what they felt when Saul showed up in Jerusalem and was preaching boldly about Jesus. He had been on a vendetta against them (see Acts 8:3 and 9:1-2). The disciples were “all afraid of him” and didn’t believe he was a disciple.
So, the disciples of Jesus who had been witnesses of the resurrection and who had received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, didn’t believe Saul was a disciple. Those disciples knew that God could raise the dead to new life and could bring transforming power that made miracles happen. Yet they didn’t believe that God could transform Saul from a persecutor into a disciple. They knew Saul and they believed they had him figured out. Their opinion of him was set.
As disciples today, I wonder when we have a set opinion about someone and, no matter what happens, we refuse to believe they have changed. I wonder how we doubt the power of God to transform lives and we give up on someone as a hopeless case. I wonder how our fear sometimes clouds our ability to see the goodness at work in someone’s life. God is in the conversion business. May God convert me again and again so that I may be more like Christ.
Prayer: Surprise me, O God, when I think people are reduced to only the worst things I know about them. Remind me that all people are created in your image and your power to transform can do miracles. Transform me to be a person of grace. Through Christ I pray. Amen.
Author: Millie Snyder
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].