Paul (formerly Saul) was a fearless warrior against Christ. He terrorized believers and dragged them into prison for speaking the Gospel. Paul made it his priority to end the name of Jesus and everything He represented.
Until one day...
The angel of the Lord spoke to Paul and miraculously he listened. This was a lost man in a fallen world and yet he heard a voice and responded. He was made blind so God could give him a new vision. And what a vision it was.
Paul describes himself to the Ephesians as a prisoner of Christ, an apostle by God's will and an Ambassador in Chains.
This particular label has resonated with me all week. When I describe God I do not connect him to shackles, I picture freedom, redemption, and chains left behind.
Yet Paul comes from a different place. God saved him from disastrous choices and offered him forgiveness. He gave Paul a way to redeem his past and make his future one to hold dear.
I cannot fathom how Paul faced the families of those he tortured after being made new in Christ. How did he greet them in the market? Did his fellow Christians accept him with open arms or did they worry he was playing a cruel joke?
We do know once Paul's heart was renewed he possessed a zeal for God that has never been matched. He pleaded with Christians to love, encourage, and support one another and to live a life according to God's plan.
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.Ephesians 4:1
When God pulled Paul from the grips of darkness he gave him a new mission in life. Until his last breath Paul begged believers to speak boldly and pray for one another.
His words are a constant reminder to me of how we should never stop reaching out to those in darkness and embrace Christ followers from all walks of life.