"By punishing them often in all the synagogues I tried to force them to blaspheme; and since I was so furiously enraged at them, I pursued them even to foreign cities."
Hate is a powerful force. Couple it with religion and it often becomes lethal. Paul knows. He'd been a Pharisee for most of his life - a strict adherent to the Law of Moses. That's why the "People of the Way" (aka early Christians) got him so riled up. They followed the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, who advocated things in opposition to the Law (or so he thought). So Paul (actually, he was known as Saul at that time) pursued these Christians. Vigorously pursued them. Even to foreign cities! Why? It was his hate & anger that fueled him. "I was so furiously enraged," he writes.
Then God changed his mind. Turned him around completely. Anger & passion turned to love and passion! And so much good was accomplished!
Why is it that hate - especially "religiously-fueled" hate - is so strong with so many? Is it fear? Deep-seeded uncertainty? How powerful that Jesus came to transform our fear & uncertainty into love and grace. Don't be a hater. All we need is love! May people come to see all Christians as ambassadors of love & grace... always!