While many of us slept last Sunday evening, May 1st, some place in another part of the world, our elite special forces of Navy Seals, took out America’s number 1 public enemy. All week long debate has been carried on whether or not America did right. On some websites discussion has gone forth on whether or not Bin Laden went to heaven or hell. Still others wanted photos showing proof. But, the FBI’s # 1 enemy is gone. Osama Bin Laden was a terrorist. His appointment came, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment”(Hebrews 9:27 KJV). His judgment will follow.
The influence Bin Laden had on thousands, if not millions of people, is mind-boggling to me. Yet he did. People who are willing to die for a cause. To lay down their life. To sacrifice. Even if they are wrong is amazing to me. But, line them up side by side and down through history there have been those who brought an influence of evil into their generation. And if our world continues for another hundred years, there will be others.
Saul was a terrorist. In fact, if modern ways of communication had been available the headlines within the body of Christ would have rang out the same, “The Church’s # 1 Public Enemy is Dead”. In fact, he called himself the “chief of sinners”. But, a Damascus road experience brought Saul of Tarsus to an abrupt end. It wasn’t Navy Seals. It was the power of God. With a precision strike through the heart a man who had hated Christianity would now become its greatest leader.
I cannot prove it from scripture, yet I have often wondered what one thing led to Saul of Tarsus, the terrorist, being arrested by the power of God that eventful day on his way to Damascus? Could it have been what he saw on the face of the church’s first martyr, Stephen? Saul held his clothes he said. Luke, the writer of the book of Acts informs us that Stephen’s face looked like the face of an angel. As Saul walked away perhaps he could not shake the image. Maybe it was hearing Stephen, not crying out with curses upon those throwing rocks, but a prayer of forgiveness that had penetrated the terrorist heart. Whatever it was, the former Pharisee, zealous radical would be so changed by the power of God that he would not only shake a nation, but devils themselves because of the influence he carried within his life for the glory of God. The #1 public enemy of the church died on the Damascus road, not in a compound, but was resurrected to become the greatest influencer outside Jesus Himself.
The devil hated Paul the apostle because of the power of influence he had residing within him. Thirteen of the twenty seven books in the New Testament were written by the former terrorist. His words ring with authority. They penetrate the heart. They cut through the fabric of life and bring us face to face with reality. And most were written from a prison cell. But, still today they drip with insight that if taken to heart by the least among us can radically change a life from darkness into light.
Let me ask us a question. Who are we influencing today? Let me be honest, we are providing influence either good or bad for those around us. We influence by our actions, by our tongue, by our lifestyle, even if we never intended to. Listen to the former terrorist, turned radical Christian as he pens a message to a church located in a city called Colosse. He tells them, but not just them, you and me as a believer to put on some things before we head out into the world on a daily basis. Here is how he informs us to have influence. “So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it”. (Colossians 3:12-14 The Message)
One man became the FBI’s # 1 public enemy. One man became hell’s greatest nightmare. Now you and I can step into the shoes of either one, it’s our choice. May we become the nightmare of hell because of the power of influence through the Holy Spirit on the world that is around us today.All it takes is one. May that one be you and me!!!!!!