Bible students are familiar with the account of Paul’s conversion. But have you thought about it from the perspective of those around Paul? Listen to what Luke writes, about the reaction of Paul’s friends and enemies soon after he becomes a Christian…
But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ. And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.
There are two groups of people orbiting around Saul’s life at this time. There are those who stood with him while he persecuted the church, and there are those in the church he persecuted. Those people are static; they do not change who they are just because Paul changed allegiances. After he is converted there are still those who supported Christian persecution, and there are still those being persecuted.
The only thing that changed…was Paul.
And in changing he learned a lot about the character of both his former allies and his current ones. Isn’t it ironic, that the man who went to Damascus to arrest (and potentially help to kill) Christians, ended up becoming a Christian himself and thus the target of a conspiracy to kill him.
What’s even more amazing (from a worldly standpoint) is the fact that Paul’s new-found brethren helped him escape death. His fellow disciples of Christ helped him out of a window in a basket so that he could slip away from those plotting his murder. Again consider the fact that Paul had been intending to enter Damascus in order to arrest Christians. Instead he met Jesus on the way there who told Him what to do (Acts 9:6), and was baptized into Christ by Ananias to wash away his sins (Acts 22:16).
It’s not that hard to imagine that the Jews, who were okay with seeing Christians be killed (they had just killed Stephen after all—Acts 7), would have no problem turning against Paul once he converted. Murderers are murderers and loyalty is a fickle thing. But it’s much more amazing to consider that the Christians—the very ones that Paul was planning on arresting (and potentially murdering)–instantly became his helpers and companions. They put all of Paul’s past behind him.
Because his sins were washed away! God set his past aside, so God’s Christians did too! That makes you think: Who is more loyal? Who would you rather hang around? Obviously I’d rather make friends with God’s people. I don’t have to worry about them trying to kill me!
And yet so many choose to befriend the world…