BAD GUYS CAN BE REDEEMED TOO...
In any story, movie, TV show (& even in the Bible) there are GOOD GUYS and there are BAD GUYS. As a teacher/early childhood educator we are taught (and also believe) that there are no bad children, only good children who make bad choices.However, if one continues to make bad choices and follow that path, I guess you would become a 'Bad Guy'. But bad guys can become good guys, when they make good choices.
In the Lego Batman movie, Batman thinks he is a bad guy because of some bad choices he makes, but when he meets a computer system that scans him to see his 'badness', he finds out he just made some bad choices, and that he himself isn't bad. Some of the 'bad choices' he made are out of the love he had for his family and friends. He wasn't a BAD GUY.
In the Bible there are several cases of 'BAD GUYS', and we have been studying some of them in our Children's Church program, as some of our kiddos have had problems with some bullies and 'bad guys' at school. So this week, we are learning that even bad guys can be redeemed. What a great reminder of God's faithfulness and mercy. Although someone has made the choice to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, the Lord still looks down on them and loves them.
Some verses on redemption that I have found in the Word are;
Isaiah 44:22 "I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free."
Luke 1:68 "Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has visited and redeemed His people."
Job 33:28 "God rescued me from the grave, and now my life is filled with light."
The 'Bad Guy' of our lesson is Saul. His story is found in Acts 9:1-28.
SAUL -- a man who made threats and was eager to kill God's people and Christ's followers, was a guy who made bad choices, so was seen as a BAD GUY of the Bible. He tried to have Jesus' followers arrested too. However, one life-changing moment happened on the road to Damascus. A light from Heaven shone down around him, and he heard a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"He asked "Who are you, lord?" The voice replied, "I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now, get up and go to the city and you will be told what you must do." Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he was blind. The men with him had to lead him to Damascus, and he remained there blind for three days. He didn't eat or drink anything either. (v.1-9)
In Damascus there was a believer named Ananias whom the Lord spoke to in a vision. He was told to go tho the house where Saul was and speak with him. So he went to the home of Judas on Straight Street. (You could say that God set Saul STRAIGHT). He was to lay his hands on Saul so that he could see again. Ananias had heard all about who Saul was, and was worried as Saul could arrest him. (v.10-14) God told Ananias "Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take My message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. And I will show him how much he must suffer for My Name's sake." (v.15-16)
So Ananias went to the home just as God asked him to, and prayed for Saul, that he might receive his sight and be filled with Holy Spirit. "Instantly something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized." (v 17-19)
The people around knew who Saul was before his conversion, and wondered how this man who hated God's people and wanted to arrest them, or even kill them could now be preaching and teaching about Jesus the Messiah. Even the believers were afraid that he wasn't truly a believer. "When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer!" (v 26)
Acts 13:9 - Saul also known as Paul... God changed Saul's name to Paul.
Saul - Meaning: Asked for or prayed for (Roman name)
Paul - Meaning: Small or Humble (Latin/Jewish name)
Even BAD GUYS can be REDEEMED by God. God has a plan for ALL of us. ALL OF US have sinned and FALL SHORT of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
This is definitely why Jesus says in MATTHEW 5:44 "But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!" The BAD GUYS in our lives can be saved and redeemed too. They don't always have to be BAD GUYS forever. God can change their hearts just as he changed the heart of Saul. Saul's transformation into Paul reminds us that no BAD GUY is so bad that they can't be redeemed.
Psalm 107:2 "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!" (KJV/NKJV)
"Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story --" (NIV)
"Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others He has redeemed you from your enemies." (NLT)
Because of God's great grace and mercy we can all be saved. Man's one sin does not make him any better than one man who chooses to continuously sin. Sin is sin in God's eyes, and we cannot live with God and hold hands with the devil. So we need to continue to pray for those who curse us, who persecute us, or who are 'bad guys' in our eyes. Because God does still have a plan for them, and can change their hearts. Hallelujah!
Be blessed to be a blessing!