By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)
Scripture Readings: Acts 21-22
Key Scripture Verses: Acts 22:12-14 (NIV, Life Application Bible)
“‘A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there. He stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very moment I was able to see him.
“Then he said: ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’”
Paul (Saul) is in Jerusalem and has been arrested. He asked the commander if he could speak and so he spoke to the crowd, using this time of persecution as a time to give his personal testimony of his conversion. Paul is relaying how he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, how Jesus blinded him and revealed the truth of his resurrection to him. He tells of how Jesus told him to go into Damascus and that he would get his instruction there, how his companions took him there and how he encountered Ananias.
He tells the people how Ananias revealed to him that he had been chosen to be a spokesman, an apostle of the living Christ, telling him that God “has chosen you to know his will” and to bear witness to Jesus and his message.
Paul knew that the people might not receive him, but boldly took the initiative to tell his story. Initially, they listened until he spoke of being sent by God to the Gentiles which then angered them. This was a Jewish crowd who wanted to remain separate from the Gentiles.
Paul’s story was dramatic—he had turned from persecuting Christians to following Jesus and teaching and preaching the gospel. And he took whatever opportunity he could to tell this story, hoping to reach others for Christ, even if it might fall on deaf ears—he would take the chance that God’s message might reach someone by his telling it.
We are called to tell others about Jesus. We are called to tell our own stories of faith. These stories help others to understand how Jesus works in our lives and how his Holy Spirit dwells within us. Everyone does not have the dramatic story of literally being physically blinded and then being able to see again like Paul did; however, the spiritual conversion of being blind to the truth and then having it revealed to us, being able to see with spiritual insight is what happens when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
I remember dramatic stories of faith that really spoke to me as a young teen, stories that convinced me that Jesus can transform us spiritually, stories that supported the spiritual work that the Holy Spirit had already begun in me. These played a part in my own spiritual transformation.
These stories are important to tell. These stories are important for us to remember when we start to become complacent.
May we love Jesus so much that we cannot not tell others about him, so that they, too, might experience his love and grace.