As much as I love Old Testament accounts, I would like to fast forward to another man named Saul; this one lived during the time of Jesus’s sojourn on Earth, and had undoubtedly heard about Him, if not having witnessed some of His miracles/speaking engagements firsthand. Saul is a really interesting character in his own right. A Roman citizen by birth (which was nothing to sneeze at in those days), he was also on the fast track to the very powerful religious elite in Jerusalem, and being a pupil of the famous Gamaliel didn’t hurt his C.V. either. I tend to think he was being politically “groomed”, as it were. We pick up the story after young Saul witnesses (participates?) in the stoning of a Christian church deacon named Stephen:
“They rushed at him [Stephan] and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul.”
I appreciate Saul on many levels. He talked the talk and walked the walk; even if his talk and walk were in the wrong direction, at least he was authentic and (to borrow a phrase from my dad) intellectually honest. Saul began putting action to his passion, and with his band of ecclesiastical guerillas (many of whom we have in our churches today, but that’s fodder for another essay) began dragging people from home and hearth to throw them into prison, the accommodations of which were not up to today’s American standards, by the way.
I can only wonder what effect the” laying of the accusers’ coats at his feet” had on this young, still impressionable devotee. I wonder if that was the spark that ignited a smoldering passion causing devastation to many, similar to what we now see so evident in the news throughout the world. And a few comparisons bear contemplation:
- Passion is powerful, misguided or no. I must demand the self-discipline to make my passion be fully informed by both truth and love.
- Our actions spur others to further action, for good or bad. And just as importantly, so do others’ actions influence my own, if I let them, that is. Just who is doing my thinking for me?
Thankfully, Saul’s story doesn’t end there. And, thank God, neither does ours!
Acts 7:57,58 Tyndale House Publishers Inc (2008-06-01). The One Year Bible NLT (One Year Bible: Nlt) (Kindle Locations 19128-19129). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.