To Die For
The most famous personal transformation in history took place one day in AD 35. The events surrounding it are generally well accepted by historians of all stripes, religious and non-religious.
Saul, who was later known as Paul the Apostle, was a powerful leader in the Jewish religious establishment of ancient Israel. He was educated, affluent, and influential.
One day, however, he gave up his old life entirely. He dedicated himself to a person who appeared to him on the road to Damascus. It was Jesus of Nazareth, who had been executed several years earlier. The members of Paul's entourage also reported seeing a bright light and hearing a voice.
What makes the story even more extraordinary is that Paul was on his way to arrest some of Jesus's followers. Paul subsequently traveled thousands of miles by foot, horseback, and ship to spread the word about Jesus.
History tells us that for over twenty years Paul endured repeated beatings and stonings as he journeyed all over Asia Minor. He was flogged several times to within an inch of his life. He was jailed and kept in chains. He was shipwrecked three times and chased out of major cities by angry mobs. And finally, he was put to death in Rome for upsetting the authorities with his unflinching views.
Today, we talk about having “followers” on social media. It's a badge of honor. But Paul's followership was something else altogether. He possessed a dedication, a devotion, that was of a vastly different order of magnitude. ...