by Byron Pellecer, Associate Conference Minister (Texas-Based)
I found myself reading and meditating on Acts 9:1-20 where Saul’s conversion experience is disclosed. So far, he has been persecuting the young church, however, everything is about to change!
This text presents its reader not only with Saul’s conversion but also with a new mission: To be God’s instrument and to carry the gospel before Gentiles, kings and the people of Israel.
The story unfolds through a vision when the risen Lord speaks to Ananias about the call and future work of Saul. He was near Damascus when a strange light from heaven, exhibiting heavenly power, flashes forth and he falls to the ground.
In the midst of the experience, Saul hears a confronting and demanding voice: “Saul, why do you persecute me? The question is pressing for an answer that will change his life from that day forward.
Now down on the ground, he can only ask “Lord, who are you?” The answer simple and powerful, “I am Jesus.”
For Saul, there might be two possible options: The first one is to question this new authority and presence and continuing doing what he thought right, and the second one is to surrender to this new divine presence.
However, the instructions that followed were even more intriguing; “Get up and enter the city and you will be told what you are to do.” It was after this experience that he discovers that now he is blind! To top it off, now he is in need of someone to lead him by the hand, that someone is Ananias.
Ananias, in a vision is told by the Lord to go and look for a man of Tarsus named Saul who is praying and he too has been given a vision in which a man by the name of Ananias comes to him.
“Go”, is the command to Ananias because this man is a chosen instrument of God to carry the gospel. Soon after his conversion and discipleship process, he begins to testify in the synagogues, proclaiming Jesus as the Son of God.”
In similar fashion, the great commission of Jesus is for his followers to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth too!
My point is this, repentance and conversion experience is followed by regeneration of life and discipleship, then commissioning and sending will follow respectively. Hence conversion, newness of life is the real center of our identity.
Friends, without Ananias risking everything, it is difficult to imagine how Paul would ever have started as an apostle!
Again and again the Lord has raised up people like Ananias and Paul who have dared to approach individuals to begin on the road of evangelism, repentance, conversion, discipleship and mission!
Just like them, individually and collectively, we are challenged to share our Jesus’ story.
As God’s missionaries, let’s go and share God’s good news of salvation and minister to the world (Mission). Call them to repentance and to convert from their old ways (evangelism/conversion). Teach them to keep God’s commands (discipleship).
May the good LORD continue raising people like Ananias and Paul in our midst!