v 1. Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers.
v 20. Immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues.
This is a long reading today, and you know the story well. Reflect however on the huge contrast between the Saul of v 1 and the Paul of v 20. From Persecutor to Preacher in 20 verses! This is one of the most significant events in the story of the early church, with far-reaching consequences.
What an amazing story he had to tell, and you can imagine the impact it had on the members of the synagogue. So much so, that if you read on to v 23 you discover that he became the persecuted one himself. ‘After a while some of the Jews plotted together to kill him.’
Once the good news of Jesus made sense to him he set about explaining it to others. He was not a man to keep his faith quiet; he had a deep desire to lead others to what he himself had experienced of the grace and forgiveness of God.
It is a naïve truism to say that we are not all in the same mould as Paul. It is no use saying this is what Paul did, and so should we. The uniqueness of his life and of his experience of conversion shouts to us that we are not in the same mould – we are different. BUT – some of the underlying principles of his experience are relevant. The one that stands out for me is that he grasped that he was engaged in the mission of God. He was able to use the special personal gifts that God had given him to explain the gospel and encourage others to become followers of Jesus. My gifts, and yours too, are very different from Paul’s; but we can still use them to point people to Jesus and explain in our own words what Jesus means to us.
Mission is using what God has given us, not trying to become something different – someone God never intended us to be.