Paul recounted his conversion on several occasions and spoke of his attitude toward Christianity before embracing it himself. Of the many ways he described his pre-Christian life, think about what he said in Acts 26:11. He describes it as being “furiously enraged” at Christians. He ravaged the church (Acts 8:3). He breathed out threats against them (Acts 9:1). He had the power and desire to punish them (Acts 22:5). He was a violent aggressor toward Christians (1 Tim. 1:13). What changed him?
The word of Christ did (Acts 27:14). Jesus taught that among the conditions of heart is the good and honest one (Luke 8:15). The teaching of Christ can change people’s minds and attitudes.
A changed view of Christ did (Acts 27:15). Though Scripture does not explicitly tell us his view toward Jesus before his conversion, His vicious reaction to “The Way” (Acts 9:2; 22:4) reveals that he was absolutely opposed to the view of Christ asserted by the disciples, that He is Lord (cf. Acts 2:36). Yet, on the road to Damascus, encountering Jesus, Paul immediately begins to acknowledge Him as “Lord” (see how Luke emphasizes the Lordship of Christ in Saul’s conversion in the account in Acts 9—1,5,10,11,13,15,17). A person will have a dramatic attitude adjustment toward Christ who comes to acknowledge and appreciate Him as Lord and Master.
A more profound life’s purpose did it (Acts 27:16-21). Christ outlines His purpose for Saul—a minister (16), a witness (16), opening people’s eyes (18) as his own were. Whatever the focus of a person’s life, it is not as meaningful as when Christ is in the center of that focus.
16th-Century Scottish historian, John Knox, wrote, “No one else holds or has held the place in the heart of the world which Jesus holds. Other gods have been as devoutly worshipped; no other man has been so devoutly loved” (Haythum Khalid). That is true for those who come to take Him as He is presented in the Bible. In the public marketplace where ideas are sold and traded, we will encounter people whose mindset toward Christ and His Way mirrors that of Paul’s before He was converted to Him. Our task is to live Him in our lives and, if possible, share His Word. If their heart is good and honest, the Word will change their view of Christ and their view of their life’s purpose. If that happened so frequently in the unfriendly environment of the Roman Empire of the first-century, it can happen in our current culture!