Summary: When you have met the risen Christ you are so grateful you immediately get to work sharing the message .
For those who are new, we began this conversation a number of weeks ago about what gives us meaning in this life and I suggested that the question is actually a mute point for those who call themselves Christian because if we believe that Christ came, died and rose again then we must also live out this reality. To live out this belief we are called to become a witness for Christ. An impossible role without the acceptance of the Holy Spirit, the power of God offered by the Holy Spirit for the single intent of glorifying the Lord through a willingness to live as a person who publicly declares a belief in, an adherence to, and a resolve to share the love of God with everyone understanding their reaction is not our benchmark, it is only our willingness to unselfishly share what we have been given.
Now as a result of this, a witness experiences gratitude.
Gratitude is an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has. – Psychology Today
Gratitude for a Christian witness includes an understanding of grace because in the process of reviewing what one has, we come to understand what God has done for us through Jesus. It is from this place of recognition we become motivated or empowered to an ever greater willingness to share our hope. Studies show that we can deliberately cultivate gratitude, and can increase our well-being and happiness by doing so. In addition, gratefulness—and especially the expression of it to others—is associated with increased energy, optimism, and empathy.
This might explain why Paul seems like the first incarnation of energizer bunny. He has a moment with God and then doesn’t stop sharing his faith until his last breath. Today’s scripture is one of my all time favorites. It’s the story of Paul’s conversion. If you would turn with me to Acts 9, we are going to cover the first 22 versus this morning. PRAY!
Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 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.
Saul who would be Paul is a Pharisee trying to make a name for himself as the self proclaimed guide for the one true faith. His zealousness, reputation (study under one of the great Rabbis: Gameliala) and connections were helping him to make a name for himself. The letters were actually extradition papers giving him the authority to bring this group back to stand trial for their views. “The way” was a group moniker meaning either the way of salvation or the way of life in relation to God.
3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him,”Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied.
The idea of light flashing, Saul who would be Paul falling to the ground, the guards standing their dumbfounded and the words being spoken seem to provide an amazing stage to witness God’s power and love. The answer to Paul’s question should solidify the concept that to persecute a Christian was and is to persecute Christ. Can you imagine the mental shift that had to be taking place within Paul? Have you ever been so sure you were right that you would bet your life, give all you had, only to be shown you were in the wrong? This is exactly what was taking place. Let’s continue…
6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
We’ve heard testimonies of folks for the past few weeks and some have heard a voice, others have felt a strong leading and others said they just knew. But how powerful must it have been to hear God’s voice so clearly, to have a conversation and then get an audible direction from God and to know without a doubt it’s Him? There is no question to what you do next.
7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus.9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
Imagine how overwhelmed Saul who would be Paul must have been at this moment in time. The three days must have been a time of agonizing time of reflection – how could he have missed the prophetic signs, how could he stand by and watch people be killed, what kind of spiritual leader doesn’t see the truth before him? His whole world must have felt like it was being deconstructed as he was led blind into and around Damascus.