What You’ve Missed…
* The disciples receive God’s Holy Spirit and start speaking in every language known to man. Instead of being completely amazed, some people just think the dudes are hammered drunk.
* God teleports Phillip after he baptizes some guy, just like Scotty beamin’ up Captain Kirk. No, seriously. The Bible says he was teleported. Like in Science Fiction…except…not fiction.
* Stephen, the first martyr ever, seems like the nicest guy ever. Bummer.
* Three thousand people are lovin’ all this and decide to become Christians at the same time. And they didn’t even do it for a free t-shirt. Crazy.
Daily Reading: Acts 8-9
Remember how after 9/11 people were passionate about America? Remember how people were passionate about hating terrorists? And remember how Osama bin Laden changed his mind about everything afterward, and became America’s greatest leader and advocate?
No? Oh, right. Because that would be completely insane, and Americans would be idiots to follow their most collectively hated enemy. Even if the guy genuinely regretted his actions and apologized to U.S. citizens, I imagine most Americans reacting by saying something like, “Screw that,” or, “Hell no,” or, “WTF? Where’s ma’ gun? I’m gonna kill that mother….”
There wasn’t a chance in hell that guy was getting any kind of forgiveness. There was even less of a chance (if that’s even possible) that bin Laden would have been allowed to visit the U.S. without mass riots breaking out. And there was absolute zero chance of that guy being allowed to become an American politician. I mean, the idea of that just sounds preposterous. Like, totally and ridiculously outlandish. Hugh Hefner has a better chance at becoming the next Pope than bin Laden being allowed to run for office.
Why am I even bringing this up? Because this actually happened. Not with Osama bin Laden, but with the apostle Paul. Paul is like, the best Christian ever. He started tons of churches, was an incredible Christian teacher, and spent his life spreading the news of Jesus all around the world. But before all that, he was Christianity’s worst enemy.
“Meanwhile, Saul [who later changed his name to Paul] was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers.” Acts 9:1
He didn’t just oppose Christianity. He wanted to kill Christians. He was eager to kill them. And he was threatening them relentlessly. Yup, that’s pretty much a dead ringer (no pun intended…well, maybe a little) for bin Laden in my book.
But one day, Paul has a “religious experience” where Jesus appears to him, strikes him blind, only to have him healed days later, at which point Paul realizes this whole “Jesus thing” is real, and maybe murdering Christians isn’t the best idea anymore.
Soon after, Paul can be found preaching about Jesus, which was the very thing he wanted to kill Christians for. That’s like bin Laden producing YouTube videos about how awesome America is, and how he was wrong for thinking otherwise.
(I really need voice inflection here because) That’s CAAA-RAAAY-ZEE.
That’s only the start, because as time wears on, Paul’s not only allowed to become a member of the church (most Christians were actually afraid of him at first), but he becomes a sought after teacher and well respected man within the movement. In fact, he wrote most of the New Testament. He basically instructs the Christians on what it even means to be a Christian. Again, that’s like bin Laden becoming a major influential player in American politics, to the point that most government officials are seeking his advice on how to effectively run a democratic form of government, then pretty much elect him President.
Can you even conceive of bin Laden not only as a converted American politician, but a highly respected politician? How about as our beloved President? That’s insane. What group of people choose to follow their enemy? A group of people who are total idiots, that’s who. Like people who think the writers of LOST knew what they were doing, or people who think they’re learning when they watch Honey Boo Boo on The Learning Channel. Those types of people might be swayed by some smooth talk, but not rational adults with functioning brains.
Adults with functioning brains, in the same situation as the early Christians were with Paul, would be all like, “Dude…didn’t Paul have your brother killed? Didn’t he hock a huge loogie on you last week at the market? Didn’t he call us a bunch of crazy lunatics who were the scum of the earth? Why the hell are we letting him talk at our meeting? Why aren’t we repeatedly punching him in the face and kicking him in the jewelies right now?” That’s how normal people would react. Yet that’s not what happens here in Acts at all.
These Christians allowed their worst enemy to change his mind, to become one of them, and to become one of their greatest teachers. Clearly something powerful is happening here because this isn’t normal. This isn’t anything close to normal.
This is crazy. Like, Ripley’s Believe it or Not crazy.