Paul’s encounter with Christ was dramatic and unlike that of the other Apostles, who were hand-picked by Jesus Himself. Acts 9 gives a detailed account of the transformation in Paul who was formerly known as Saul, the notorious Church persecutor. Paul writes these details over and again in his own words in Galatians 1 as a testimony for the Churches here.
The early Church was used to seeing new believers being added to it every day. However it had never witnessed anything similar to the conversion of Paul which became one of the most sensational events in the lives of the early believers. This was purely because of Saul’s reputation as a ‘persecutor of the Church’. He displayed an unusual zeal and enthusiasm in doing away with anyone professing Christ and spared no effort in accomplishing this task. His disgust for the believers drove him to set out on a ‘special mission’ to hound those professing Christ.
We must remember that while Saul set off on his pet adventure, he earnestly believed he was safeguarding the faith of his forefathers from the ‘heresy’ he thought the believers advocated. It was at this juncture that God had an encounter with Saul, one that would alter the entire course of the ‘special mission’ in his life.
Was Saul ever the same person? We know he was not. This same Saul who was a threat to the believers became a champion in propagating the Gospel message, especially to the gentiles. One of the most interesting aspects about Paul is that he never lost sight of his spectacular encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus. This event became the fuel for his existence and Paul lived up to God’s expectation and became one of the most accomplished Apostles. Even today it is his teachings to the early church, recorded in the Epistles that throw light on the deeper aspects of our faith and lead us on in our walk with God.
If you and I were asked to look back on that day when we had our own ‘special encounter’ with God, I am sure our hearts will swell and our eyes water to think of those habits, bitterness, trials and brokenness out of which Christ brought us. Each of us, no doubt, has experienced a very special encounter with God. The most important question to consider is, how much has this encounter ‘shaped’ your life? Has your conversion to Christ changed the ‘mission’ of your life? Are you still lingering around with the same old lifestyle with its pitfalls? Or like Paul, has your ‘mission’ in life altered to entirely focus on the One who graciously saved you?
Paul lived as an exemplary witness for Christ. He boldly says, “And they praised God because of me.” Gal 1:24 (NIV). Paul’s unsullied walk with Christ brought ‘praise’ to God. Whoever saw Paul or heard him preach saw and heard God Himself. Can that be said of you today? Paul lived to the glory of God. How about you?