As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 
    - Acts 9:3-4

    Written by Joe Smith

    In today’s society living for Jesus is certainly viewed negatively by many and unfortunately the hockey world tends to fall into this category. There are many who believe you can’t be a competitive hockey player AND a Bible believing Christian. This thought could even be shared by many of your own teammates. Have you ever had someone react negatively to your faith? Did they tell you how ridiculous it was to believe in the Bible? Has anyone questioned your toughness because of what you believe?

    I have had some players on my team who have been so hostile to the idea of a personal relationship with Jesus; I began to think that maybe Jesus just wasn’t for them. Maybe there is too much anger and unbelief in this person. Maybe it’s better if I stop wasting my time trying to explain myself. What a horrible way for me to think!  We don’t know what goes on in other people’s hearts and we aren’t expected to make that kind of judgment call. We are called to share the love of Christ. We can be sensitive to people’s feelings and avoid being pushy and overbearing, but we can always live out our faith publicly. My teammate might be so against Christianity I won’t ever be able to get through to them, but here is the awesome part: God can!

    We are introduced to a man named Saul in the book of Acts. If you loved Jesus at that time Saul was bad news for you. When we first meet Saul in Acts 7, he is leading a group of people in killing a Christian man named Stephen. It simply says that “Saul approved of their killing him” (Acts 7:60). I don’t think you are going to meet anyone more hostile than that. Not only did Saul see Christianity as ridiculous and wrong, but he wanted all Christians destroyed. If anyone was impossible to reach it was Saul…until God decided to pay him a direct visit.

    Saul was on his way to Damascus in hopes of finding Christians he could arrest and bring to prison in Jerusalem when God appeared as a light around him. After this encounter, Saul’s heart was completely changed! Saul, later known as Paul, would go on to spread the love of Christ and author over 30% of the books we find in the New Testament. Unbelievable! This example alone shows that God can reach anyone and change anyone’s heart. We need to be constantly reminded of this every time we enter a hostile environment whether in the rink or out.

    If there are people in your life (friends, family, teammates, coaches) that don’t agree with your beliefs, you are called to pray for them (Matt. 5:43-44). It is not always easy to do this when people are so hostile to your beliefs, but this is our calling. When these difficult times happen you can always come to God for help (1 Peter 5:7). Like Paul, never forget no one is too far for  God.

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