Loving Father, I am many things to many people, but in Your sight I am Your child. Thank You, Lord.
Read Acts 22:3-29
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
What are the signs of the power of the Gospel at work in your life and the life of your church? Are you thankful for them?
Paul grasps the opening provided to recall his dramatic conversion story. He is at pains to stress his former life as a persecutor of Christians (4,7,8,19,20) and the astonishing transformation in his thinking about Jesus and about Gentiles. It’s a remarkable story whose impact has not always been positive in evangelical Christian circles where dramatic conversion is highly prized. Taking this story as the norm has caused many believers to belittle their conversion, particularly when the process has been gradual and lacked drama. The power of the risen Jesus is at work as much in the opening of Lydia’s heart (16:13-15) as in the fireworks of Paul’s conversion. The common thread is their response to Jesus with all its implications.
For Paul, response to Jesus meant radically altering his view of himself and the world. Such a shift is fundamental to any conversion, whatever the nature of surrounding events. We start to call Jesus, “Lord.” We stop living for ourselves and begin to live for the one who died and was raised for us. We stop regarding anyone from a worldly point of view and see all people as those whom God loves and longs to be reconciled to (2 Cor. 5:13-21).
Paul had the task of blazing the trail for a shift in mindset from spiritual discrimination to universal mission. His encounter with the Lord Jesus sent him to the ends of the earth. Anyone attempting to challenge the status quo of a discriminatory regime, as demonstrated in South Africa, will face opposition. We are asked to continue the task of bringing the Gospel to all, by battling prejudice and discrimination, pinpointing where groups are being marginalized and overlooked, and questioning when cost-effectiveness or efficiency are raised as barriers to Christ.
Identify a group in your community or the world who are denied clear opportunities to hear about Jesus. Pray for them.
Lord, show me ways in which I can make the world a better place. Help me light candles of hope and change in my world.
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