My name is Paul. It wasn’t always Paul, but one day something happened that eventually caused it to change. Since then, not only my name but my entire life has changed.
I was quite well off. I had the best education. I belonged to the strictest discipline of my religion. I was marked for greatness.
I made it my life passion to pursue the followers of one Man. He was a Man called Jesus Who had turned many people against the teachings of my religious leaders. He said that He was God’s Son, and He preached that God was available to anyone who would come to Him, and not just to His chosen people, Israel. He called our leaders a generation of snakes! When He was alive, many people turned away from our Jewish religion to follow Him. Finally, we executed Him as a criminal. After He died, it became worse. His followers claimed that He had risen from the dead. More and more people began to follow His teachings and turned from our sacred traditions.
I hunted them down. I put every effort into destroying them, and destroying the name of that Man they followed. I hated them, and I hated Him. My elders in Jerusalem gave me special approval to interrogate these people, and to make sure that they were unable to spread their poison. The teachings and the followers of this Man Jesus had to be silenced and destroyed.
Then one day I met Him and that changed everything. I was traveling on the road to Damascus. I was on my way to slaughter followers of Jesus Christ. In the middle of the day, He appeared to me in His glory. He spoke to me personally. He showed me that all of my hatred against Him was really directed against God and that He really was God’s Son. At that point, I came to understand that He actually loved me individually and He gave Himself for me. For me that realization was the brightest light I had ever seen. I accepted Him as my Savior, and became a Christian. From that moment onward, I belonged to Him.
My life changed completely. There were other Christians who could not believe what had happened to me, and they were afraid of me. I turned all my energy to spreading the good news of the Son of God, His crucifixion, and His resurrection. Nothing else mattered. Whatever had been important before, became unimportant. The things I had valued became a loss to me. I would let nothing hinder this wonderful message, and I told it to everyone I met.
The Jews hated me and the Romans wanted me silenced. Soon, I was captured and thrown into prison. Because of this persecution of the Christians, many believers dissociated themselves from me. However when I was all alone, the Lord Himself stayed with me.
During the time I spent in prison, I appreciated the true liberty I had. In my pain and anguish, I experienced the joy that comes from Christ alone. As my health deteriorated, my spirit grew stronger. I knew that my outside circumstance could not affect my eternal well-being. I had inward content in every situation.
Now, I will be executed by Rome. It may seem strange, but I actually look forward to the end. I have finished what God wanted me to do. I have run the course He prepared for me. I have held on to what He gave me. Now I will see Him face to face! Death holds no dread for me; it only brings me to Him, which is so much better. What He has for me will make the suffering I have endured seem so incredibly small. What little I have done for Him is nothing compared to what He has done for me.
Have you met Him personally? Do you understand Who He is and what He has done? Have you understood why He died on Calvary? If you have not, He longs to welcome you. He came to save sinners; He saved the worst of them when He saved me. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1Ti 1:15).