“Worldview shift” is the anthropological term that explains when a person has an experience that challenges him or her and causes the person to understand their world in a whole new way. We are following Saul as he goes armed with letters of permission to arrest and send to jail any man, woman or child that professes to be a follower of Jesus. Saul is out of control. The victims feel like their world is out of control. At this point Saul has an experience with the Holy.
Now 2000 years later, I am not in a position to critique his explanation. He claims he saw a bright light, heard a voice, and believed the Holy identified itself as Jesus and Saul suddenly realizes he has been dead wrong. His persecuting of followers of Jesus is really persecuting God. Anthropologists call it a worldview shift. We call it conversion as Saul responds. Youth might call it a “mountain top experience.” Suddenly Saul sees life differently. He realizes Jesus is risen and he becomes a follower.
Perhaps of note is that Saul is blind for three days and he prays and fasts. He takes time to process his spiritual experience. God sends Ananias to speak with Saul and Saul’s vision is returned. Talking over our experiences with others, elders in the faith are important feedback. Another way of saying it is to test the spirits. Drugs bring ecstatic experiences too and that does not mean it is from God.
Spiritual growth can be a slow, gradual understanding of this relationship with God, kinda like dating. As we read Scripture or as we meet with a fellowship, we grow in the depth of our love for God and our willingness to do life as He reveals to us. Or, there can be sudden enlightening moments when we are sure we have been in the presence of the Holy.
Saul’s conversion story may sound a bit weird but it does give hope for God can and does interact with his creation and often appears in desperate situations, walking with us and guiding us. We may even be wrong and God can step in. Fasting, prayer and fellowship are all important aspects of growth.
So how does Saul’s conversion challenge you today. Perhaps we have a deep longing for a closer relationship. Perhaps we feel out of control and need God to reign us in. Perhaps evil is knocking on our door and we need the courage to face it. Take time to bring these concerns in prayer and perhaps pray together with a friend about it today. Blessings!