Summary: Both exceptional and everyday experiences with the living Christ are good and necessary in accomplishing God’s work in and through us.
Title: Drama and Diligence
Text: Acts 9:1-22
Thesis: Both the exceptional and the everyday experiences with the living Christ are valid and necessary in accomplishing God’s work in and through our lives.
The Season of Easter Series: When Jesus Shows Up
During the Season of Easter we celebrate the resurrection of Christ as he shows up in unusual and unexpected ways.
On August 12, 2008 Chuck Colson reflected on his conversion to Christ. He wrote: “A lot of people have asked me what I think when I remember back to that hot, humid August night in 1973 when Tom Phillips, then president of Raytheon Company, witnessed to me in his home. I left his house that night shaken by the words he had read from C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity about pride. It was as if Lewis were writing about me, former Marine captain, Special Counsel to the President of the United States, now in the midst of the Watergate scandal. I had an overwhelming sense that I was unclean.
After talking to Tom, I found that when I got to the automobile to drive away, I couldn’t. I was crying too hard – I was not one to ever cry. I spent an hour calling out to God. I did not even know the right words. I simply knew that I wanted Him. And I knew for certain that the God who created the universe heard my cry. (Dell’s Descants, Thirty-Five Years in the Light: Reflections on My Conversion, Chuck Colson, August 12, 2008, descantwordpress.com)
Everyone who professes to be a follower of Christ has a story. Some stories are dramatic while others are not so much. So when Jesus shows up we may or may not be surprised. In our text today we see that Jesus appeared to two different men in quite different ways:
One encounter was dramatic and life transforming.
The other encounter was not so much, but resulted in the diligent doing of God’s will and work.
One encounter may be understood to be rare and exceptional.
The other encounter may be understood to be the norm and everyday.
Both the exceptional and the everyday experiences with the living Christ are good, valid and necessary in accomplishing God’s work in and through our lives.
In our story today a man named Saul had an exceptional encounter with the risen Christ and it was an arresting shocker.
I. When Jesus confronts us, we may discover that we are sincerely misguided and wrong.
As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you Lord? Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Acts 9:1-6
When Jesus interrupts us, it is a good and gracious thing, however in Saul’s case it had to be both shocking and frightening.
1. When we are (so forcefully and/or dramatically) confronted with our error it is shocking and embarrassing. Paul might have wondered, “How could I be such a dope? What was I thinking?”
Of course at the time he thought he was a good and godly guy and doing a good and godly work. But he wasn’t.
2. When we are (so forcefully and/or dramatically) confronted with our error it is frightening. Paul might have wondered what the consequences of his error meant in the lives of the people he had hurt and he might have wondered what God was going to do about it? When you mess up as badly as Saul had messed up there are generally consequences. Was blindness his punishment?
In my devotional reading for the fifth week of Easter I picked up this quote: “…let this story prompt reflection on the ways God has intersected your life, turning you around and sending you in new directions. His resurrection power can transform the lives of even those dead set against him. (Bobby Gross, Living the Christian Year, P.213)
Confrontational moments are also transformational moments. God is at work choosing and changing us.
When confronted, what is the best way to respond?
II. When Jesus confronts us with the error of our ways, the wisest thing to do is, do what he says.
Jesus said, “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Acts 9:6-9
Saul’s encounter with Jesus had a profound effect on him.
1. He was blind and had to be led by the hand.
2. He was so upset that he lost his appetite… he did not eat or drink anything for three days.
When our lives are dramatically disrupted it is not uncommon for us to react. Saul did not eat or drink. Sometimes we cannot sleep. Some of us may become irritable and edgy. Some of us cry. Some of us become reclusive. We, like Saul, can feel helpless and at a loss as to what to do…