I went to school for journalism, so I felt like a lot of my professors expected us to be “news junkies.” I wasn’t. Twitter was the only place I really got news since I didn’t read the paper, watch it on TV, etc. And typically, I would just read the headlines that appeared, not the actual story. I wouldn’t say I disliked the news…but I guess I did.
Most of you probably already know why. A lot of stuff on the news, especially these days, isn’t exactly positive. I was, and still am, a huge fan of feature stories. Human interest stories. One of my favorite projects was a story I wrote about a man who had cancer and was writing a novel. He was a husband and father. He worked tirelessly to help people at a hospital as well. It was, I thought, a feel-good story about a wonderful man.
A lot of the news lately involves “bad guys.” Saul was likely considered one of those, capturing men and women, taking them as prisoners because he thought they were blaspheming against God.
Doesn’t it kind of annoy you Saul essentially got a second chance? Here’s a guy who Acts 9:1 says “was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.” That’s awful. His goal was to round up any and all followers of Jesus and eradicate them. Once he received permission to do this, he left for Damascus.
As Jason pointed out, Saul thought he was doing the right thing. He thought he was honoring God by getting rid of the “blasphemers.”
Saul’s on his way to do terrible things, when Jesus speaks to him. He asks Saul…why are you persecuting me? In this moment, Saul undeniably sees Jesus is alive. It’s all true.
For three days, Saul is blind. He doesn’t eat or drink. I imagine those three days felt like eternity waiting to see what was going to happen. Instead of striking him down, making him permanently blind, etc, Jesus sends Ananias to restore Saul’s sight. Ananias knew Saul’s reputation, so he was shocked this was what he was supposed to do. It didn’t make sense.
When guilty people go free, it’s upsetting. It’s confusing. It doesn’t make sense. Saul was guilty, but as Acts 9:15 says, Jesus declared him his “chosen instrument.”
For those people in our society who have done terrible things, there is justice. But sometimes there isn’t. Sometimes the system fails. But all of those convicted murders and thieves…people who do the most horrific things…they aren’t beyond God’s reach. They can still be saved, just like Saul.
I can see why this would be upsetting. Mind boggling even. But isn’t it a good thing? Let me explain.
Have you ever felt bad about something you did, but then you remembered your neighbor cheated on their spouse? Suddenly you don’t feel so bad. Because you didn’t do that. You weren’t on that level.
I know I’m guilty of looking at others and thinking, well at least I didn’t do that. But whatever it is we’re guilty of…lying, realizing we didn’t pay for that candy bar, holding a grudge…it’s still not good.
We’re all human. We aren’t perfect, and we never will be. If God didn’t send Jesus to die for us, we would be in trouble. There wouldn’t be any do-overs. There wouldn’t be any second chances. God hates lying. He loathes it. We all need forgiveness. We all need saving.
I need forgiveness for what I’ve done. Saul needed forgiveness for what he did. The people on the news need forgiveness for what they’ve done.
Thank God for second chances. Thank God His mercy is beyond understanding. It makes me think we all ought to share this message more. What could be more amazing? The people in jail need to hear Jesus. Our neighbors do. The mailman does. That lady who walks her dog past your house every day does. Don’t wait. The time is now. And again, what could be more amazing?