This Week's Scripture & Reflection: Galatians 1:22-24
Prior to his conversion, the apostle Paul wreaked havoc among the early church. He arrested, imprisoned, and approved their executions, including Stephen, the first official martyr of the Christian church (cf. Acts 8:1). News of his violent, persecutory rage spread rapidly across Jerusalem, causing many believers to flee Jerusalem to escape his wrath. Not only did news of Paul’s tyranny spread, but also the news of his transformation following his conversion! Paul heard that the churches of Judea which were in Christ heard from other sources saying, “He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.” Upon hearing this news, the churches of Judea glorified God, not necessarily because of Paul himself, but because of God’s transformative work in Paul’s life!
Notice the response of the churches of Judea upon hearing that Paul was preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. He was the one who had persecuted and violently oppressed the early church for their faith in Christ. The churches of Judea had every reason to resent Paul for what he did to them as members of the body of Christ, yet they greatly rejoiced in the Lord when they heard that Paul had been transformed by the power and love of Jesus Christ and was now preaching Him across numerous regions. Their response to Paul’s conversion demonstrated a heightened level of spiritual maturity because despite being persecuted by Paul, they did not withhold celebration when they learned of his salvation! This man who was once their enemy was now a fellow brother in the faith, and that alone was cause for rejoicing!
Luke 15:10 reminds us that joy fills the presence of the angels in Heaven when just one sinner turns from their wicked ways and repents before God! Let us as fellow believers and followers of Jesus Christ follow suit and rejoice in the addition of new brothers and sisters into the family of God! God has rescued them from the domain of darkness and transferred them to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins! (cf. Colossians 1:13-14)