“And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ And he said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’And he said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.'” (Acts 9:4-5)Saul was a man who was quite vigorous and zealous for the Lord, though his initial efforts were quite misguided. He had heard but ignored the warning of Gamaliel (Acts 5:33-39) and began to violently persecute those who believed in Jesus, thinking that he was doing God’s work. He must have recalled the warning of Gamaliel as he lay on the road outside Damascus listening to the Lord’s words of rebuke and chastisement. He, like so many others who would follow after him, had reached the bottom, the lowest point of his life. He realized that all that he had done in his life up to that point had been worthless. He must have felt totally disheartened as well as terrified for now he was blind and helpless at the mercy of Almighty God whom he had offended.
Yet the Lord showed mercy and kindness to Saul. He used obedient Ananias to reach out to him. The Lord then healed him, forgave his sins and empowered him to preach the gospel.
The history of Paul should teach us to reach out to all people of all backgrounds even those with sordid and questionable pasts. The fact is individuals often have to sink to their lowest state before they will cry out to the Lord. They have to come to a point where they detest and loathe their lives and fall into despair. Many will sadly opt for suicide. Therefore we Christians have to be there to help such despairing folks by giving them grace and hope in Jesus. The vilest of sinners should be able to find forgiveness and grace from the Lord in the fellowship of the Church and we should be eager to accept them with His mercy.