“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” -- Acts 9:4
Back in the early 1970s, Chuck Colson was Richard Nixon’s White House counsel and hatchet man—one of the most ruthless political operatives of the past 50 years. During Nixon’s first term as President, Colson was behind the scenes carrying out Nixon’s dirty work—no matter how dishonest or unethical it was. Someone who knew Colson well described him as “the kind of guy who would run over his grandmother if necessary to get the job done.”
in President Nixon’s second term in office, Chuck Colson gave his life to Jesus
Christ. Once he was a Christian, he was determined to become an honest man. And
he didn’t just talk the talk. He walked the walk. In 1974, over a year after
leaving the White House, Colson pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, and he
served a seven-month sentence in
In his book, “Born Again,” Colson reflected on his time behind bars: “I found myself increasingly drawn to the idea that God had put me in prison for a purpose and that I should do something for those I had left behind.” And Chuck Colson did do something. In 1976, a year after being released from prison, he founded Prison Fellowship, which is now the nation’s largest Christian nonprofit serving prisoners, former prisoners and their families.
You see, as I mentioned in my last column, God doesn’t just save hell-bent sinners. He recruits them to change the world. That was true of Nixon’s hatchet man, and it was also true of a young Jewish thug named Saul.
Saul was a
Pharisee—a well-educated, legalistic member of the Jewish establishment. He was, as he wrote later, “convinced that I ought to do all
that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth” (Acts 26:9). In
those days, Saul was like a rabid wolf mangling his prey. He often went from house-to-house
and synagogue-to-synagogue arresting Christians. Some he whipped. Others he
imprisoned. Still others he recommended for execution. That all changed
suddenly one day when Saul was on the road to
light from heaven blazed around him, and Saul fell to the ground. A voice asked
him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4). When a terrified Saul
asked who was speaking to him, he learned it was Jesus of Nazareth. And God
didn’t just appear to Saul in order to save him. He appeared to Saul in order
to appoint him as a servant and witness to both Jews and Gentiles to “open
their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to
God” (Acts 26:18). In other words, Jesus wasn’t just interested in saving
hell-bent Saul. He was recruiting him to change the world. And Saul responded
with obedience. He stood up—blind as a bat—and walked the rest of the way into
the city of
In that moment, Saul’s world turned upside down. Here are a few quick lessons we can learn from his conversion.
Lesson #1: More often than not, those who most aggressively attack Christians and claim that God is dead are in an unseen spiritual battle, wrestling with faith in God. So, hold out hope and pray for them. What we see on the surface in just a glimpse of what’s going on inside a man or woman. Oftentimes, under the surface there’s a spiritual battle raging that we don’t know about. So, despite what you see or hear on the surface, pray for God to keep working on that person’s heart and overcome his/her resistance.
Lesson #2: Like Saul, we’re no match for God. Because He loves us, He will relentlessly pursue us until we willingly submit to Him. As the great British author C.S. Lewis put it, God was like a Divine chess player—systematically, patiently maneuvering his opponent into a corner until finally Saul conceded. “Checkmate.” So, if you’re resisting God, I encourage you to knock it off. You’re hurting yourself. And in all likelihood, you’re hurting others around you. So, stop being so stubborn. Saul learned the hard way, but you don’t have to.
Lesson #3: On the road to
Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on YouTube or Facebook Live. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.