Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Show Me the Way!
But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.
Zealous to maintain the status quo of the Jewish traditions, Saul leads violent assaults on those converted to "The Way", the appellation used by early Christians to describe their religion. He is a cold, unfeeling witness to the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr. He instigates the fervent charge to round up and unmercifully imprison those he considers heretics. Later, in Acts 9:1-2, Saul, "still breathing threats and murder against the disciples", decides that persecuting them in Jerusalem just isn't enough. He petitions the High Priest for permission to travel to the synagogues in Damascus to warn them of this misguided, dangerous movement, and, while on his journey, capturing and sending back to Jerusalem any claiming to follow The Way. No one, least of all Saul, could have predicted the radical, miraculous transformation about to transpire in him along that fateful road when, in a flash of light that leaves him blinded, the Risen Christ confronts, convicts, and converts him.
I find it decidedly ironic that Paul (the Greek version of his name which he uses among the Gentiles), the most ardent, obsessive defender of the Jewish faith became the most passionate, devoted champion of Christianity. His conversion testifies to the fact that, with God, all things are possible. I believe the Lord saw through Paul's malevolent behaviors toward His people and recognized the qualities that would make Paul an indispensable apostle: determination, zeal, dedication, knowledge of the law, and devotion to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He simply needed his vision corrected. Jesus made that happen in a mighty way!
Have you ever known someone who experienced a dramatic conversion like Paul's? Was your own conversion one of out-of-the-blue magnitude, or was it, like C. S. Lewis', a quiet conviction within your soul? Is there a friend or acquaintance in your life for whom you wish there was a Damascus Road? Love them, pray for them, and witness through example. Believe that God can and will meet them at their crossroads; be prepared to take their hand and help show them The Way.
Psalms (120), 121, 122, 123 or 124, 125, 126, (127)
1 Samuel 11:1-15