June 28, 2021
12 “On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
15 “Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’
“ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
19 “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. 20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds. 21 That is why some Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. 22 But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”
When I was working on my bachelor’s degree, a very short time ago, we had a class in evangelism. One could take two semesters of Evangelism. Some of the things are now a bit dated as they applied to a time and place. They were set in a certain type of culture. Yet some things were good for all times and places. Obviously the most important was knowing the gospel and being able to speak of it briefly. Not trying to get everything in at one sitting. The second was that we looked at our own life and were able to see some of the things of our own testimony of faith. They wanted us to look at the before and after picture. This is what we see from Paul. Before Christ and after Christ.
It is true that we come to Jesus in faith and from that we receive the promise of resurrection. But it is also true that we are transformed already now in that process. That transformation now gives us the certainty of the promise that is still coming, resurrection. Faith affects life now and in eternity. We see both and we live in both.
While Paul speaks of drastic turnaround from persecuting the church to being its missionary, others, like Timothy, will speak of the gradual change of growing in faith. Neither is better or worse. It is just the way our lives have gone. But we should be able to speak of the gospel and how it has changed life for us. Take a moment today to contemplate how life has changed because of faith in Jesus. What has changed as you have followed Jesus?
Song – How Can It Be
God of transformation, you meet us in the ordinary as well as the extraordinary moments of life. We seek you in the valleys and on the mountaintops. Yet we admit that too often our eyes are blind to your presence, too often our ears are deaf to your call. When you reach out to us through the cries of the hungry and homeless, too often our hearts shrink from your touch. Forgive us, we pray, and set us free to love and serve. Amen.