Acts 9:1-22 The conversion of Saul
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. 10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered.11 The 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. 12 In 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 holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” 17 Then 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.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” 22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.
Reaching people with the gospel of Jesus Christ, sharing your faith and converting people to Christianity can be difficult. It is commanded of us. We are to be His hands and feet, spreading His love while offering hope. The hardest to reach and minister to are often those whom we love most. Family, close friends and those who know us best are hardest to reach. Is it that they know us like no other? Is it that we are afraid to broach the subject? Do we feel inadequate in our knowledge of the tough questions? Regardless of what scares you into reaching them, we must always remember the toughest convert of all, Saul.
In the United States, we are unlikely to be murdered for our faith. We know that there are places in the world where that is not the case. What we face is the potential of being shunned or blasted for our faith, but not murdered, tortured or imprisoned. Let’s look at the case of Saul. As we see in the scripture above, Saul was an enemy of Christianity. He was, at the time, one of the biggest enemies of Jesus. In the end, Saul (who became known as Paul) became the Bible’s largest contributor. God used His enemy to spread His truth. So what are you afraid of?
You aren’t trying to prove to people why they should change Baseball teams. You aren’t trying convince someone to worship you. What you are trying to do in reaching those you love is to assist God in their own conversion. In ensuring their eternity. In doing the work of God, you help to open their hearts in order for them to receive the power, love, truth and hope of Jesus Christ.
Think of people like a popcorn seed. Popcorn seeds have moisture in them. Add some heat and they “Pop”. All people are created in the image of God. God is knocking on their door, we help them to grab the door handle. Show them love, the hope of Jesus and the promise of eternal life and they just may “Pop”. God used Saul to spread His kingdom far and wide, He can do the same with those close to you.
God bless you,
Father Jason Bowden