We see Paul meet Christ on his way to Damascus. There’s one thing we know: there’s a drastic change between Paul’s life before, and after meeting Christ.
Many only know OF Christ, like we know of George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. They only see Christ as a historical figure, rather than know him personally. Many Christians know OF Christ, they read the Bible, they hear about him from their parents or pastor but do you personally know Christ? Have you experienced that turning point from meeting Christ?
Saul was a Pharisee and was persecuting Christians, out of zeal and love for God. He thought he could please God by persecuting them, so he was on the way to Damascus to do so but then Christ appeared before him.
1. God Chose Saul (Love)
“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.”
When God tells him to go to Saul, Ananias tells God that he is mistaken, Saul is a murderer who is persecuting Christians, but God tells Ananias that Paul is his “chosen instrument”. Saul did not come before God, but Christ appeared to Saul first and chose him. In that same way, We have to remember that God chose us first. Why? Because he loves us.God chose us and gave us the gospel, because he loves us, unconditionally. Paul unknowingly lived his life in sin and darkness, so when Christ appeared before him, his whole life was turned upside down.
Why does God give us problems? So we can be shocked in Christ. Let’s be reminded of his unconditional love for us and take time to reflect on how different our lives would have been without Christ.
God knows you and loves you. That’s why he sent Jesus Christ. How is it that we understand this gospel that not everyone can understand? Because God loves you.
When we reflect back on our past, although it may have seemed like nobody knew our problems and we were suffering alone, God’s hand was with us the whole time. We don’t need to live in our present under the burden of sin anymore, because Jesus has set us free so we can live as a new creation. We are so uncertain of our future, but in Jesus we know what we are living for. God has called us to shine the light to the gentiles and to enjoy and share eternal life.
“But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.”
2. Saul’s Life is Over
“Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 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.”
We see a drastic difference in Paul’s life before and after Christ. We need to remember that our old selves have been crucified with Christ and Jesus has delivered you from your old life so you can live a new life, a new journey. We need to walk away from our old lives. God has closed the door of the old, yet we continue to live in sin and disbelief when all we need is faith. We are living with the standards of the world, in fear, focusing on the things on the world, instead of the gospel that God has given to us. Our lives have changed: we were children of Satan but are now children of God. Paul’s life was controlled by the law, and he lived holding on to nothing but the law, but now “through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Christian life is not about legalistic do’s and don'ts. Christ has set us free from the law of sin and death. We must not linger in our old lives anymore but live in the new life that Jesus paid for us.
Paul spent 4 days blind. He probably spent a lot of time thinking. He realized his plans and his own stubbornness were getting in the way of him truly enjoying the gospel. Let’s give them up to God, completely kneeling before Christ. That’s what it means to follow Jesus. We can’t do this by our own strength. Paul paints an accurate picture of the true Christian life. Before Jesus, Paul's prior life is over and he begins a new life.
There are so many Christians who live their entire walk of faith on that initial shock they felt when they first met Jesus, but let’s experience that shock daily.
3. Saul was all-in for God’s Will
“At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 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?’ Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.”
Paul, after meeting Christ, immediately goes to the synagogue to proclaim Christ. Despite the danger of persecution and being jailed, he was all-in for Jesus. God doesn’t want 30% or 50% but 100% of ourselves.
In that same way, we can go all-in when we realize God’s desire. In Noah’s time, it was the Ark, symbolic of Christ. God’s desire today is to save lives, to save the whole world, to deliver the people who are living in darkness, to liberate Christians who are still shackled by legalism, and to save our next generation.
Focus on yourself first: prioritize receiving God’s grace. Let’s remember that God’s covenant is stronger than our present problems.
Restoration is key: Restore your identity as a child of God. Restore your authority. Engage in the spiritual battle. All the problems you face are opportunities to receive blessings, to experience God’s power and for his will to be fulfilled.
“The cross before me, the world behind me. No turning back, no turning back.” -Hillsong Music, Christ is Enough