Then I (Paul) went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God because of me.
I have dreamt like many other Christians about the day when the souls who love God will be resurrected and united in the new world to come. We all have lost people dear to us and look forward to seeing them again. I have entertained countless conversations concerning what that future existence will look like and what the scriptures tell us we can expect. One common point of debate is the question of whether we will take issue if we see that certain people have been saved and gained entry into God’s eternal kingdom. The more I ponder those conversations, it is clear this debate is less about identifying the people with whom we would like to fellowship forever and more about determining who God has the power to save.
Saul was an incredibly evil man. He certainly was a zealot of his faith, but that zeal without the proper knowledge and wisdom drove him to bring death to those who wanted to share the good news. An encounter with Jesus would change all that, and Saul would become Paul, transforming into a man who instead sought out the dead to lead them to life. Today, we read his writings and view them as teachings which are integral to the development of our spiritual knowledge and wisdom. We glory in the transformation of this man, but we did not suffer persecution at his hands. The question is whether we would respond like the early church and give God the glory for transforming and saving those we would consider the most evil influences of our time.
We might think that there are some who are so evil and deceived as to be beyond salvation, but the power of the Gospel to save has no limits. If God were to reveal to us that the most evil human figures of our time or any time had come to know him and will join us in eternity, how would we respond? The hope is that we would celebrate such a display of God’s love and mercy. The hope is that we would not be angry or resentful that the Father would show such mercy on those who have committed such evil acts. Let us show our faith in the power of the Gospel to save the most lost and deceived by asking God to transform those who have persecuted and hated us. Father, give us righteous and holy compassion that we would seek salvation for every soul and rejoice at each one who is saved.