Friday, June 17, 2011

Paul and the Difficulty of Accepting Change

Why did Paul have a hard time joining with the disciples at first? They were afraid of him. (Acts 9:26)

It was difficult for Paul, then known as Saul, to integrate with the disciples in Jerusalem as he had long been among their staunchest detractors (Acts 9:1-2). In fact, when Paul was last seen in the holy city, he was involved in the death of one of their own (Acts 7:58-8:3). The disciples were naturally suspicious of Paul’s newfound mission.

What would you do if your biggest competitor instantaneously sought to become an ally? Have you ever known anyone who made a sudden, dramatic lifestyle change?

Paul’s 180° shift was the result a famous encounter on the Damascus Road. Unfortunately, this experience was unverifiable. It was not until his friend Barnabas vouched for him that Paul gained acceptance among the disciples (Acts 9:26). The disciples then had the unenviable task of performing their own 180° turn in regards to their attitude towards Paul. Is it harder for a person to change or for their associates to accept the change in them?

Do you think the disciples’ fear of Paul is also evidence of a reluctance to believe that God can change a person irrevocably in an instant? Do you believe God can still change people in such profound ways?

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