I love the Acts of the Apostles.
It is so relatable,
It makes sense
and can so easily be related to our lives.
It reminds us that we still have this call to be witnesses to Christ.
That we have a duty to spread the Gospel.
It shows us that we are not alone in our sufferings.
Persecution began as soon as the Church did.
The Church’s first martyr, St. Stephen,
was killed in Chapter 8 of Acts.
From the get-go the Christians suffered persecution,
some even to the point of death.
I was re-reading the part that talks about St. Stephen’s martyrdom
and I am fairly certain my jaw literally dropped.
“They [the Sanhedrin] threw him [St. Stephen] out of the city and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul….Now Saul was consenting to Stephen’s execution.”
Acts 7:58 & 8:1
The first time read this,
my thoughts were something of the like,
‘Hm, Saul, that’s a nice name. Sounds familiar.’
I am not joking.
I must have been tired.
The second time I read it,
paying much more attention to detail,
I came to realize that Paul,
my absolute favorite author in the Bible,
and consented to,
the murder of the Church’s first martyr.
I do not know if I learned this pivotal tidbit of information before or not,
but if I did, it was nowhere to be found in my noggin.
I know that Paul persecuted Christians
but there is something that stands out about him consenting to St. Stephen’s murder.
What Paul witnessed was gross and gruesome.
No human eye should have to see what Paul saw.
No human heart should have to carry that burden.
Paul had this experience.
He was then given a choice as a result of that experience.
He could continue to support the persecution of Christians.
He could support the Christians.
he did both,
the second option just took him quite a bit of time to get to.
Paul was a murderer.
He had blood on his hands.
He disappointed God.
After Paul’s conversion,
he supported the Christians.
He became a Christian.
He is one of the greatest examples of a Christian.
God used Paul.
God used a murderer.
God used a sinner.
God wants to use you.
He wants to use you despite all of that.
He was to take you, oh sinner,
and help make you one of the greatest Christians of all time.
Just like Paul.
He wants you to witness.
He wants you to help souls get to Heaven.
He wants you.
Because He loves you.
He loves you far too much to just let you sit and dwell
on the fact that you screwed up.
He created you for a purpose
and until we break the chains,
the bondage of sin,
we won’t be able to fulfill that purpose.
He wants you.
He loves you.
And we need Him.