The talk was fierce. Fear rampant. He had orchestrated one murder, and was bent on more. Mobs and riots cheered the violence he inspired. It was unthinkable someone like that could ever change. Not only did no authority stop him, they permitted and encouraged him to do more of the same. He carried with him warrants for the arrests of innocent people obtained through mean hate.
“But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.” Acts 8:3 ESV
We have our Sauls, don’t we? So does God. I have lists of politicians, entertainers, influencers that to me are detestable. Their views and actions oppose the God I love and serve, their violence is inexcusable, and my disdain of all they represent spills over onto them.
Saul of Tarsus was not the guy most Christians would have picked for Year Book poster child or as most likely to succeed in the Pastor and Missionary arena. Yet, he became that. He wasn’t one I’d pick for a drastic conversion. Yet, his redemption as mine, were completely unmerited and undeserved.
You may have also at times wondered in today’s world, can someone like that ever change?
Although sin is immeasurable, salvation is still possible.
Separated from Christ we are Sauls because we have all sinned and fall short of God’s glory. (Romans 3:23) We simmer in the same soup, even though we may feel far superior to such evil.
I don’t know if the early church prayed for Saul’s conversion, or prayed for his demise. They probably prayed for safety from him, echoed by prayers today for many under the tyranny and terror of evil rulers. But God had a plan for Saul that no one saw coming.
With the devastation of war on our minds, here are a few verses from Scripture to strengthen your prayers for those who often seem beyond God’s reach.
1. “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1–4 ESV
2. ”But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” Matt. 5:44 KJV
3. “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” Proverbs 21:1 ESV
4. “The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” Psalm 33:11-12 NIV
5. “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8 NIV
When evil is dark, Christ’s light shines bright. This testimony of grace through faith is in the heart of every redeemed soul.
Can someone like that ever change?
We pray for God’s justice, rule, and victory. We worship Him because He reached down to save us from who we were.
“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” —Saul whom we know as Paul the Apostle. 1 Timothy 1:15 ESV