Charles M Schultze, author of the comic strip “Peanuts”, used to say, “In all this world, there is nothing more upsetting than the clobbering of a cherished belief ”.

To prove the truth of this saying, try telling folks that their cherished religious beliefs are false. If they react politely, the response is often along the lines of, “Don’t confuse me with facts; my mind is already made up”.

Saul of Tarsus was such a man. He knew his Bible well. In his mind he was totally correct and sincere in his beliefs. Paul described his former self as “a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God… and I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. And I punished them oft in every Synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities”.

Did Saul have a cherished belief ? He surely did. He was “taught according to the perfect manner of the law and he was zealous toward God”. Yet he was completely wrong about Christ. Sincerity is not a test of truth. Saul was sincerely wrong, and no amount of sincerity will make a wrong belief right.

Using Charles Schultz’s language, Paul’s beliefs were clobbered, and it took a drastic form of clobbering to shake him from those cherished false beliefs. The Lord knew Saul was sincere and dedicated so He knew that, if converted, Paul would be a chosen vessel to take the gospel to the Gentiles. Paul later would tell young Timothy, “The Lord knoweth them that are His”.

The Lord knows whom he is calling, and we may think he calls some of the most unlikely people. Ananias certainly did not think Saul was a suitable candidate for the truth, but the Lord knew better. We need to be willing to share Bible truth with all others, even if it means upsetting them. Since we can’t tell in advance who is the “good ground”, we must do our part scattering the seed knowing that God gives the increase.

But we also should not expect those with wrong cherished beliefs to immediately let go of their false beliefs just because we tell them how wrong they are. We need to be patient. Paul tells us how we should behave: “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will”. It takes time to unlearn a cherished belief. We need to persist in our efforts to convince the gainsayers as we try to show them “a more excellent way”.

The “more excellent way,” Paul tells the Corinthians, is the way of love. In love we must try to help others see the errors of their way. An example of this is what Aquila and Priscilla did for Apollos. We read that when Apollos came to Corinth “he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more perfectly”. Let us follow the example of Paul as he describes his approach with the Thessalonians: “But we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us”.