When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.
When Saul came back to Jerusalem he went to meet with the followers of Jesus, who were understandably worried. After all, this was the fiery persecutor who had gone to Damascus to arrest others who believed in Jesus. Why would they think Saul had changed? Some who had seen the transformation he had experienced spoke up for him and he was eventually accepted.
Do we sometimes have trouble believing people have changed? When we have known others to behave in unchristian ways, it is sometimes hard to accept that they changed. We need to treat them with acceptance and share God’s love. We also need to realize that they may stumble (as we all do!), that no one becomes perfect overnight, and offer the forgiveness God promises to all who repent.
As Saul returned, some were welcoming, some were wary, and some opposed his new belief. When you first gave your life to Christ there were likely some who reacted in all these ways. Remember how you felt in each case, and ask God to help you welcome and accept new believers, to be supportive and understanding.
Loving Lord, we know You work in marvelous ways to change hearts and minds. Show us how we can love and mentor new believers, nurturing their faith and growing in our own, as we follow the Great Commission to make disciples of all the world. Amen.