Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Seeing The Light

Acts chapter 9 is on my mind this morning. In this chapter of the New Testament, we find the man Saul, travelling on his way to persecute Christians. He was hunting them down, planning to bring the Christians back to Jerusalem and the waiting priests for judgement. And while Saul was travelling, Jesus appeared before him as bright light, here are verses 3-19, they are just too fun to not read.

3As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
5"Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked.
"I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. 6"Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."
7The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
10In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, "Ananias!" "Yes, Lord," he answered.
11The Lord told him, "Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight."
13"Lord," Ananias answered, "I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. 14And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name."
15But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."
17Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit." 18Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Obviously, Saul "saw the light" in a very big way. Saul was one of your more unlikely candidates to be saved and do God's work in that time. He was basically a good person in character, following the law and being morally sound, but he lacked the knowledge of Christ. If I had to compare him to someone alive today, the first person who comes to mind to me is Tom Cruise. Here is a modern man who is basically good- in the public eye a lot, but he is clearly not saved. Imagine what the common person would think if Tom Cruise suddenly began preaching the gospel! That is very much what it was like for Saul in that day and age.
When I think about Saul and his dramatic rescue from a life without God, I tend to find it a little hard to relate to. I didn't have that drama. I grew up in a Christian home, so there's never been a time that I didn't believe in God. There was a time where I maybe wasn't "devoted enough" I guess. Following my own path and my own desires according to what I wanted. Just as there are so many people today who are basically good people, we all still need to "see the light" in our different ways. Being "good enough" is not going to get anyone to heaven. We all still need to accept that Christ died for us, and confess our sins so that we may receive forgiveness. Whether we can relate better to Saul and his conversion, or the simple apostle Ananias, we still have all sinned. Jesus himself said that every person must become like a child, see the light, and turn from sin, in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Once we are willing to change our ways, we will find ourselves with a childlike trust in God, and he will help us to be the great people on Earth that will get us to eternity in Heaven.<>
The beauty of this all is that God can forgive us for not being "good enough". He can make us the best people we can possibly be- all we need to do is ask him. Ask him to enter our lives and help us to defeat sin. It doesn't get easier than that. We only have to ask.

1 comment:

Claire said...

How awesome is it that God told Ananias that Saul/Paul was His CHOSEN one to carry the gospel to the Gentiles. He chose Paul even when Paul was persecuting Him. Just like He chose US when we were so vile and dirty before Him.