Updated: Oct 18
When we think, read, or even talk about Paul, we always talk about him as the giant in faith he was. But we never talk about Paul, the skeptic, the questioner, the persecutor, the murder, why? Paul was a human being with a dark past just like you and me.
Before Paul followed Jesus, he was a Pharisee, a teacher of the law, a religious leader of the Jews. A promising young prospect of the Jewish religion from the region of Tarsus. He had worked his entire life to acquire the rank he attained, studying under the most esteemed Jewish teachers of the time (Galatians 1:10-24).
When stories began to arise about the resurrection of Jesus, Paul quickly and zealously jumped on board. Viciously persecuting the His followers (Acts 8:1-3). After meeting with the high priest about further persecution of the church, he and a few of His contemporaries set out to track down the now dispersed disciples of Jesus (Acts 9:1-2). As he approached the city of Damascus, a light from heaven blinded him, and a voice came out of heaven and said, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" (9:3)
It was at this point that Paul's life would change forever. For three days, he resided in the city of Damascus, without sight following the instructions of Jesus (Acts 9:3-9).
Could you imagine trying to process what you had just seen? Your belief in the Jewish system so strong you thought you could take on God? So deeply believing in your actions, you justified them? Most of us know the ending to this story. Paul is converted and begins his journey as a teacher, missionary, and apostle of Jesus.
Skeptic turned believer.
I went to church for the first time when I was 17 years old. My high-school sweetheart repeatedly asked me to join her, and after a few months, I caved. I went in a skeptic, and after several months of seeking to uproot her position on Jesus and the church, I was persuaded it was all true. It took me almost two years before I made the decision to be baptized into Christ. I went to church intending to win a girl and found my Lord.
Whether you're a skeptic or a believer, you need to look at and understand the story of the apostle Paul. A giant in the faith, once a skeptic, turned believer, evangelist, apostle, and teacher of the Lord.
You may have people like Paul in your life. You may be yourself, a Paul. For those anxiously waiting for the turning skeptic in your life, remember to be patient. Guide don't pressure, answer their questions, and if you don't know the answer, just say you don't know! If you are a skeptic, my encouragement is to keep seeking, questioning, and challenging! When you finally decide to become a follower of Jesus, you will be the strongest among us.