Out of the Comfort Zone
“I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart” (Psa. 40:8, NRSV).
Read ACTS 9:10-19
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.
“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey” (John H. Sammis, 1824-1919). Simple but true!
Ananias is one of the unsung heroes of the Bible. Saul is public enemy number one for Christians, and God’s words must have taken Ananias into very uncomfortable territory. After a brief expression of his concern, however, he obeys. Obedience may not always be easy, but without it we shall not be effective in God’s mission.
Saul’s call is to take the good news to Gentiles and Jews. It is not simply a call to the Gentiles; God is not turning his back on Israel but creating one new people comprising Jew and Gentile together (Eph. 2:11-22). The details of our calling will differ, but the fundamentals are the same. We are to “carry” the name of Christ (15). The verb is an unusual one in this context, normally being used for the physical act of conveying something—the man with the jar (Mark 14:13), Jesus and the cross (John 19:17). The gospel is something which Paul will take into new areas. Similarly, we “carry” the Gospel with us; wherever we go, the name of Christ goes. We can bring credit to his name or dishonor it.
The word translated “carry” is also often used of something weighty or burdensome (Gal. 6:2). Suffering, as Paul found, is not an incidental accompaniment of following Christ or bearing his name. It is part and parcel of our Christian life, of dying with Christ that we might live with him. It is a consequence of bearing witness to his name; he himself promised his followers nothing different. So in a world which resists and avoids suffering and yet which all too readily brings suffering on those who do not conform to its ideals, we can expect to suffer for the name of Christ, and we can do so with a sense of honor and privilege.
What more could your church do to demonstrate the new sense of belonging together in one body, despite diversity? What divisions might need to be addressed?
Lord, I pray for the magnanimous and obedient spirit of Ananias. I pray for the strength and effectiveness of Paul. Make me all I can be for You.
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