Summary: God often times calls us to minister in the very places that we don’t want to be. Love our enemies as well as our friends and neighbors.
What if all your life you were taught a certain way to do something, and then one day someone came along and told you that you weren’t supposed to be doing it that way? What would be our reaction?
All my life I have been told the proper way to hold and swing a golf club.
Hold the golf club upside-down.
I’ve heard it said, and I myself have said many times “God turns things upside-down, he mixes things up and he does things backwards.” What’s really funny about that is how backward that statement is. God doesn’t turn things upside-down, we do, he just puts them right-side up. God doesn’t mix things up, we do, he puts them back like they belong. God doesn’t do things backwards, we do, he just shows us how we should be doing things right.
In our text today we will find yet another one of these passages that undermines our way of thinking, and turns things upside-down, or rather right-side up. Now when I say the name Ananias, who do most of us think of? Most of us when we hear that name immediately think of Ananias and Sapphira, we conjure up images of two people who thought only of themselves, but this morning I want to look at another Ananias, someone who God called to a very dangerous place. But, before we can go there I need to give you a little background information on a “young man named Saul”.
Saul was a Pharisee, and a good one, he had perfect lineage, he had zeal, he had passion, he was a Roman citizen, he was very well educated, there was only one real problem with Saul, and it was the fact that he persecuted the Christians relentlessly. He personally supervised the stoning of Stephen, and he was in charge of going from synagogue to synagogue asking for names of the Christians that the people knew, so he could hunt them down. This was not really the guy that you wanted to have show up at your Bible study, much less your church on Sunday morning.
One day Saul was going to Damascus to hunt down more Christians, when he was blinded by a great light, and a voice came from the sky and Saul was asked why he was persecuting Jesus. Not the church mind you, but Jesus. Saul was told to go into the town and a man would come to lay hands on him, so his sight would be restored.
Acts 9:10-15 Read verses.
Could you imagine what Ananias must have been thinking?! God had just told him to go and lay hands on the very man who would have taken him out and had him stoned to death. God wanted Ananias to lay hands on the enemy, and what’s more is that God said he was going to use the enemy! How outrageous is that? Everything we know and everything we have ever been taught tells us to avoid the enemy, and to hate the enemy, and if the opportunity arises to kill the enemy. But here comes God again turning things upside-down, mixing things up, and doing things backwards.
It’s interesting to me how easily we use the word enemy, how easy we apply this label to people. Maybe we don’t use the exact word, but our attitudes are the same toward them. If we saw them laying in a ditch bleeding would we help? If we saw them hurting emotionally would we give them comfort? If we saw them starving would we give them something to eat? And, even if we did any of these things would we then get a pious attitude that “Look, I help that miserable so-and-so even though he hates me, I am truly righteous.”
"But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32 "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.