Acts 9:26-43; Joshua 5:2-6:27; Job 23
Things must have been tense for the people of the church in Jerusalem. Saul was back in town. Saul, who had kicked down doors and carried followers of Christ off to prison. Saul, who had persecuted the church and had been sent to Damascus. Sure, he wasn’t kicking down the doors now, he was just knocking. “Hey guys, it’s me: Saul. I want to talk to you about Jesus.” The doors stayed shut. Finally, one person listened to him. Maybe he had heard something from friends in Damascus. Maybe people who had seen the change had talked. For some reason, though, Barnabas listened to him. Then “… Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.” (Acts 9:27) I’m sure the first time Saul got into a disciple’s house it was a surprise. They must have thought they were letting Barnabas in. As Saul told his story, things began to change. The church thawed and opened up to him. Saul began proclaiming the gospel in Jerusalem. The focus of persecution shifted to Saul. The church sent Saul home to Tarsus for safety and they experienced peace and growth. We run into those people today: people who attacked the gospel who turn to Christ or even people who were just indifferent who turn to Christ. We can continue keeping them at arm’s length or we can check them out honestly and welcome them into the fellowship. Yes, it may be dangerous – especially in some areas of the world. The reputation of the church may take a hit, especially if the new believer makes mistakes. As followers of Christ, though, we need to be ready to welcome any and all who proclaim the name of Jesus.
Lord God, give me enough faith and confidence in You so that I can welcome those who claim to follow You. Let me show forgiveness and grace when they stumble even as You have shown me such forgiveness and grace on a daily basis. Let the church grow as we all proclaim the story of Jesus.