I have been thinking a lot about the Apostle Paul this week, ever since Pastor Tim taught us about him last weekend.
He was possibly Christianities' number 1 enemy for a while. The Christians spoke out against the laws that Paul and the Pharisees wrapped their lives around and considered it blasphemy. So Paul sought them out!
He thought he was right. He believed with all of his might that the Pharisees and all their rules were the Godly ones...wow, talk about being dead wrong. And so he sinned against the God he thought he was serving. He arranged for people like Stephen to be killed - he ruled with an iron fist.
Then he met Jesus, the Son of God. His world was rocked!
God's forgiveness was immediate. Still Paul's guilt and the realization of what he had done to so many innocent people had to make him question if he could be forgiven. I wonder how long he wrestled with the replays over and over in his head of all the atrocities and murders he had orchestrated before he surrendered the guilt. Maybe forgiving yourself is step one in understanding and fully participating in God's grace - easier said then done. I am not sure I could have ever fully put all of it behind me...but Paul fully understood the mercy God was offering and had no hesitation in moving into God's forgiveness.
From the time of his conversion on, all Paul thought about was Jesus. Every day for the rest of his life he urgently sought to know his Lord more deeply - obey more completely and tell everyone that came within shouting distance of God's mercy and forgiveness. And in doing so he became the target of the Pharisees and those that would not believe in his Jesus. Incredible.