A read through Acts 9:1-19 reveals two people both spoken directly to by God.
The first is Saul, on his way to Damascus to find and arrest Christians. Instead, he encounters Jesus on the road and is immediately obedient to his instructions.
The second is Ananias, a follower of Jesus in Damascus. His immediate response to his encounter with Jesus is fear, argument, and a general attitude of unwillingness to acts upon Jesus’s clear instruction to embrace someone that we’d likely consider far from God.
A few weeks ago, friend Kiersten DeLong posted part of David Platt’s book, “Counterculture” on her Facebook page:
This, I am convinced, is a needed word for every Christian (and prospective Christian) in our culture today. Gone are the days when it was socially beneficial to be in church at the beginning of the week. Gone are the days when it was publicly acceptable to follow Christ ever other day of the week. Here are the days when holding fast to the gospel, actually believing the Bible, and putting it into practice will mean risking your reputation, sacrificing your social status, disagreeing with your closest family and friends, jeopardizing your economic security and earthly stability, giving away your possessions, leaving behind the accolades of the world, and (depending on where and how God leads you)) potentially losing your life.
This exactly what the Lord was calling both Paul and Ananias to in Acts 9, and it’s exactly what Christians in 2016 are called to.
Like Saul, we are often on a quest to chase down and convict the “heathen other”. May we encounter Jesus on the road. Then, stumbling into Damascus, blinded by the God who will not remain bound by our own faulty understandings, misconceptions and assumptions- may we humbly submit to those who lay hands on us, intent on removing the scales from our eyes. As awareness and reality assaults our senses let us go out and lead others to Him.
Like Ananias, we often respond in fear to God’s clear commands to love those who persecute us. What’s worse, is that we don’t even face persecution from people, they are simply different than us. They simply sin differently than we do. Or speak a different language or have a different skin color or culture. May we humble ourselves to the greater picture of God’s grace and mercy and realize the God has more in store for us and with us, than just us.