Acts 9: 1-31 introduces us to Paul. We first met Paul as Saul, a young Pharisee supervising the stoning of Stephen. As dedicated as he was against the early Christians, he became one of the most famous early Christians defending the faith. He wrote many of the epistles, letters, to young Christians in the New Testament. Paul had the advantage of Roman citizenship from his father plus his Jewish training in being a Pharisee. He was not from Jerusalem but from Tarsus, a Turkish city known for trade and learning. Paul traveled extensively after his conversion and earned the title, “Apostle to the Gentiles.” We will look at his life and the dramatic expansion of Christianity this week.
So how did this change happen? Paul, then Saul, left Jerusalem to chase down early Christians. While on the road to Damascus he had a spiritual encounter. A bright light blinded only him in his party and a voice engaged him. Saul, knocked to the ground, asked the question, “Who are you, Lord?” The voice identified itself as Jesus. I think we call that a worldview change. Whom he thought was dead and phony is alive and interacting with him. His world changed and he changed. Our epic hero, Incarnate God, has entered this iteration even as he did with Abraham in the Old Testament, to impact the course of our epic story. God has chosen Saul, interacted with him, and Saul became Paul, then telling all about his experience.
Built on this experience, though, are the interactions with other Christians who come alongside this young convert and are willing to mold him. Ananias visits three days later and restores Paul’s vision. Back in Jerusalem, Barnabas is willing to work with Paul, the known persecutor who has changed.
Paul’s core question, “Who are you, Lord?” is answered and confirmed by his experience and by the mentoring of older Christians. Once he was convinced that Jesus was alive, he became one of the best communicators of early Christianity over the known world, willing to obey even through great hardships.
Sunday’s Gospel text deals with that same question, Who is Jesus. How we answer impacts the direction of our lives. If he is historical, the Bible is a good read. If he is alive and interacting, the question is if we are listening. Perhaps spending five minutes in the Word, with music or just listening would be a good spiritual devotion for today. Blessings as he touches your life too.