Meet the Apostle Paul
I suppose we might say that conversions come in all shapes and sizes. Oh, there are some elements about them that must be in all born again experiences, such as repentance, faith, and a changed life. And all must be born again by the power of the Holy Spirit. But though the nature of regeneration is always the same in everyone (e.g., from death to life, from abiding under the wrath of God to being adopted and becoming an heir, and being transferred from the kingdom of darkness to that of His dear Son), the extent that transformed life has to travel depends on how far away one was when called. A child reared in a Christian home who is born again at age nine probably won’t experience the same shock as the Apostle Paul did when he was regenerated.
And why is this? We’ll let Paul speak for himself: “Circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless” (Philippians 3:5-6). And as far as Paul was concerned, Christians were arch-heretics who were perverting the faith and leading thousands of Jews and God-fearers (prospective converts to Judaism) to damnation. They had to be stopped at all costs!
But then something literally “out of the blue” happened. On his way to Damascus to incarcerate more Christians, a blinding light from heaven knocks him to the ground and he is told that he is persecuting Jesus. He is left blind by the incident and taken to Damascus where he neither eats nor drinks for three days. We must assume that this man was shattered. Everything he believed, thought, lived for – his entire worldview – had just been destroyed in one fell swoop. I wonder if perhaps he wished he were dead for as of yet, he was not saved. He just sat in darkness, perhaps waiting for the next blow.
We leave Paul for now to make one special point. The Lord said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” The Lord did not say, “Why are you persecuting my people or my church?” Jesus said, “Why are you persecuting me?” The Church of Jesus Christ is his body (1 Corinthians 12:27) and his bride (Revelation 19:7). He counts whatever done to her done to him. That is the closeness of the relationship we have with him. We are not just his organization on earth; we are his body on earth and he is our head. Touch not his anointed ones, for in doing so you touch him (Psalm 105:15).