Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 130; 148, Job 2:1-13, Acts 9:1-9, John 6:27-40
Children instinctively avoid looking directly at the sun. In response to the painful brightness, they squint and close their eyes and turn their heads. Only during an eclipse do people need reminding how dangerous it can be to stare directly at it. The sun itself shines steadily. Our perception of its intensity is indirect, depending on atmospheric conditions. Out of self-preservation we respond accordingly.
Saul’s persecution of Christians was a response to the atmosphere around him. He was a faithful and (self-described) blameless Jew who sought to serve the Lord. To him, Christians were dark clouds threatening the safety and standing of the Jewish people within the Roman empire. He was not a poorly motivated cartoon villain like the Christian-haters often portrayed in Christian entertainment. He loved the Lord, and believed he was defending His faith and His people.
Then Saul saw the Son in all his glory.
On the road to Damascus, Jesus appeared to him in a flash of light and spoke so all nearby could hear. Saul asked who was speaking, and Jesus identified himself and told Saul to go into the city to await further instructions. Saul was struck blind, and remained so for three days.
Saul had been instinctively avoiding the overwhelming truth of Jesus. Finally forced to accept it, his world turned upside down. Saul was committed to the truth, but it took a miracle to help him understand the truth was more than he already knew.
Most people are committed to what they believe is the truth. Normally we are disinclined to seek truth where we don’t want to find it, especially if it will upend our reality. Christ asked: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Those we seek to reach often feel persecuted by Christians. So as the body of Christ, how do we shine brightly enough to reach people on their own roads? First we let go of the shadow of a false division between “us and them.” Then we let Christ’s love shine through until the people we meet can’t help but draw their own conclusions about its truth.
Comfort: A life lived in pursuit of Christ is a light in the darkness.
Challenge: When fellow believers choose to vilify rather than love, speak up.
Prayer: God of Mercy, may Christ’s light shine through me so others may know your love. Amen.
Discussion: In your experience, what are the most and least effective forms of evangelism?
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