“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
“Please send me your resume,” one person exclaimed. As I was applying for numerous jobs my eyes became entirely focused on my former occupations. As I pondered over the places I had served the question came to my mind, “How would I explain my journey to anyone?”
I was quickly overtaken by the consequences of my poor choices. My bio revealed more than I cared to remember. A ministry had been stripped because of my sin, yet a new beginning birthed. On paper I looked like a failure. Yet I had to remind myself that at the foot of the cross, I was made in right standing with God.
“It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” —Mark 2:17 NASB
The more I have studied God’s Word, the more I have come to realize who Jesus came to redeem. He came for sinners, those who are sick and in need of a Savior. And no matter what they may have been in the past, Jesus offers everyone a new beginning and a changed life to that only He can bring.
In God’s Word we study about a man named Saul, who would later become Paul. He was a man feared by many because of his persecution of Christians. What was Saul’s bio? He was a schemer, a plotter of ruin and a murderer.
So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them. 11 And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities. –Acts 26:9-11 NASB
Like Saul’s, my own personal bio was splattered with one mistake after the other. I was a person that many would have deemed, “beyond God’s reach.” But God took the story of Saul and used it to speak to my heart in a way I could have never imagined.
One day Saul was on his way to Damascus with intentions to continue his persecution of Christians. Yet right after he began his journey Jesus Christ appeared on the path which Saul was traveling. From a divine intervention Saul’s life was about to be perpetually transformed. As he lay on the ground, blinded and afraid, Jesus spoke the following words.
“But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; 17 rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, 18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’ –Acts 26:16-18 NASB
What? Saul was a murderer, a troublemaker with a bad name. But when Jesus stepped on the scene of his heart, everything changed. A new beginning was birthed.
I remember the day God used this passage to shine His light on a questionable situation in my life. I want to share with you, once more, what Jesus said to Saul and what He is saying to you and me today. Number one, “Get up and stand.” Your past does not define you, God does! Number two, “For this purpose I have appeared to you.” There is purpose for your life! Number three, “To appoint you a minister and a witness.” God has a plan designed just for you! Number four, “Rescuing you…to open their eyes…so they may turn from darkness to light.” God will use you to help others.
This passage shows how Jesus viewed Saul, how He loved him and had a great plan and purpose for his life. The Bible shared how others struggled at first with Saul’s conversion. However, Jesus accepted him instantly.
“If God is for us, who is against us?” Romans 8:31 NASB
I want us to take notice of a very important truth. Jesus did not get stuck in Saul’s past and neither did Saul. It was true that Saul had blown it in terrible ways, but it was clear he was forgiven and called out to ministry by Jesus Himself. He left his past with God while embracing the future given to him.
There may be individuals who deem you a person who has gone too far and done too much for God to accept or even forgive. There may be others who say there is no hope. Yet what you and I must remember is God’s truth speaks louder than any words of humans. We must settle the issue in our hearts today. And that is, there is no one beyond God’s reach. Not you, not me, not anybody. This truth must take root in the center of our hearts.