Having been a former town planner I spent much time researching and investigating ways and means for urban renewal. There are those parts of cities and towns that fall into decay and soon become areas of crime and poverty. Strategies needed to be determined and decisions needed to be made if these dilapidated areas were to be renewed and given new life and vitality. Action was required and steps for this change had to be taken. Somehow people needed to be moved forward! This is common sense! Change must take place yet change for most people is incredibly difficult! There is always opposition. There is often public outcry. As I have said, ‘Nothing changes if nothing changes!’
Saul was a man on a mission. He was hired to rid Jerusalem, and the regions surrounding it, of those people who became followers of Jesus. He did this with enthusiasm as he was part of the Pharisee sect. It was an honour for him to protect Judaism from this new movement of Jesus followers! Yet something happened to this zealot. He met the risen Lord Jesus for the first time and his life was never the same after this meeting. From his very first encounter with Jesus, Saul changed and in time was transformed into someone who became completely different. He actually became an imitator of Jesus. Saul, as we know, became Paul and within a very short period of time became an apostle of Jesus.
Today’s journey into 1 Thessalonians 2 shows very clearly the massive transformation that took place in Paul’s life. He became the complete antithesis of what he once was as a persecutor of Christians. He became a staunch lover of Christians and demonstrated this love in not only word but deed. In the text before us today we witness the qualities that each one of us should have as leaders. We all will be a leader at some stage of our life whether it is in the church, family, work or at play. This massive transformation in Paul’s life started the day he stepped out in faith and did what Jesus told him to do. His life from that moment was totally committed to Jesus. He left his mark on the world in a huge way! There is much we can learn on transformation from this amazing passage of Scripture today.