9 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way,whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He 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.”
7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing.So they led him by the hand into Damascus.9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
We seem to want to forget about the principle within verse one of this chapter when we are relating with others. While Saul was STILL BREATHING OUT MURDEROUS THREATS God met him. Many people will look around and see those who are overwhelmed in sin, overwhelmed with habitual practices. They see people with lifestyle choices that are so. deeply ingrained in their life that they seemingly cannot remove them. They see these people and start heaping condemnation and judgement on them. They forget that they too were at a “pre-conversion” moment. Instead many will look upon those deep in sin and view them as irreconcilable unto Christ.
Yet this was the very moment Christ came for. He came for the broken, the worthless, and the rejected. Those moments where sin abounds in their life is simply a moments with abounding potential. ALL hearts, no matter the depth in which their sin is rooted, can be reconciled with God.
I wonder though, how many of us are in that second stage? How many of us have been blinded, no longer able to see the world the same. God has changed us and we are stumbling around in the dark assuming the transition stage is forever. God has changed us, given us a command, and now we are INSTEAD of carrying through like Saul did we are settled in our blindness. We traded death for life but haven’t followed through.
To simplify this: Many Christians have come unto salvation and are being disciplined for not being obedient (living out the Gospel) and have chocked their discipline up to “suffering for Christ.” Too many are stuck in the transition and think it’s their new reality.
What if Saul never followed through with God’s command? How would it look if he were then traveling around telling everyone of this immense experience he had with God, and never followed through with the command? He uses the blindness (suffering) to prove he encountered the Lord. He preaches all the truth God shared with him, and includes the part about going to Damascus. He spurs all those around him on to go to Damascus! Yet there he stands unchanged. Unfortunately that’s where the majority of the church is. They have encountered the Lord, they are now called to evangelize, yet they stand isolated and ashamed to share the Gospel.
Evaluate your life: is your tough circumstance a transition, training, discipline, or simply a result from the fall? By the way, you should see variety in your life (not everything is just because of the world).
God I am quick to think that when I endure suffering it is because of others or sin as a whole. Help me to see when you are training me, leading me, or disciplining me. Keep me from growing discouraged during or missing your tools of growth. Amen.
Remind someone today that their circumstance may just be a transition. They may be experiencing a great disrupt (likely less than blindness) that is pointing them in a direction. Remind them that every situation brings it’s own evaluation stage. So just because something looks bleak doesn’t mean it is “suffering for Christ.” Just remind people to be aware of discipline and transition. Most act like God isn’t guiding us anymore!! 🙂