“I’m making my way through the Book of Acts again,” Stan said one morning.
Continuing, he said, “You remember the part about where Saul, who later became Paul, went back to Jerusalem from Damascus?”
“A little,” I said. “But tell me what’s on your mind.”
“When Saul got back to Jerusalem from being converted, he wanted to get together with some of the disciples, but they wanted nothing to do with him because they didn’t trust him.”
“All they knew about Saul,” Stan continued, “was that he was a persecutor of Christians, not one himself.”
Stan then said, “The disciples’ basic position toward Saul was a lot like how some people viewed me after I first became a Christian.”
“How so?” I asked.
“It wasn’t that I had been going around trying to kill Christians,” Stan said with a smile, “but I sure had made a lot of disparaging remarks about people and their faith. I lived a life that I now see was very contrary to the life of a Christian.”
“I didn’t understand what being a Christian meant, and then, all of a sudden I was one!”
“The first time I went to a men’s breakfast at the church after I became a Christian, someone who knew me, or at least knew of me, came up and said, ‘Boy, am I surprised to see you!’”
Continuing, Stan said, “When I told him I had become a Christian, I could tell by the look on his face that he did not believe me.”
“He said something like ‘that’s great,’ but his face said something totally different.”
“How did that make you feel?” I asked.
“At the time I did not understand, but now, looking back, I can see he was justified on the one hand, but totally wrong on the other.”
Continuing, Stan then said, “His past knowledge of me justified his skepticism, but his lack of welcoming me as as brother in Christ was not very Christ-like.”
“It was a very valuable lesson for me,” Stan went on, “to welcome each new believer God brings before me. Welcome him or her just as Jesus does.”
“My role is not to question. My role as a disciple is to disciple,” Stan concluded.
And when he (Saul) had come tp Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, not believing he was a disciple. Acts of the Apostles 9:26.
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for welcoming me when I came into your arms as a believer. You knew the sincerity of my commitment to you, just as you know the sincerity of each person who says he or she is yours. Please help me to welcome each new believer just as you do. Help me to get my self-focused ideas of a person out of the way so I will see just as you want me to see and to welcome him or her just as you do. Thank you I can and do bring all of these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.