February 28, 2011 Devotion Sharing

ACTS 9:1-31; ACTS 11:19-30

How does today’s text apply to you?

Immediately following Saul’s conversion, he spent several days with the disciples in Damascus, to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.  He started to do the very thing that he was persecuting others for doing after his powerful encounter with Jesus on the road.  His life was flipped upside-down after his encounter with Jesus, such that he astonished people who knew of him, and “baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ”.  And that reputation earned him to be the target of conspiracy to be killed by the Jews.  His life astonished some, baffled some, and angered others.

Saul also preached the message of the gospel, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.  The pattern was that he came to an area, started to preach and people wanted to kill him.  He was somebody zealous already, as demonstrated by his persecution of Christ followers before he himself became one.  But having been converted himself, rather than simply being quiet about his life-changing experience, his zeal fueled preaching rather than persecution.

I’ve known a lot of people who claim the benefits of following Christ, but just keep it under the radar, people who tell me that they don’t want to rock the boat or offend others by “imposing my beliefs on them”.  So they go to work or they go to school, move about in their social circles and people wouldn’t even know that they were Christian if they didn’t say something about it.  Saul didn’t go around telling people he was Christian (of course, Christ-followers weren’t called Christians until the church at Antioch). But Saul distinguished himself as a disciple of Jesus by the life that he lived.  His life astonished some, baffled some, and angered people to the point of wanting to kill him because of the message he was “imposing on them”.  He wasn’t looking to pick a fight.  But the truth is the truth, and it conquered him.  And a life conquered by the gospel, surrendered into obedience to God is going to be something astonishing to some, baffling to some and perhaps angering to others.  That kind of life embodies the message of the gospel in that it causes people to have some kind of response or reaction to it from grappling with what it means to them.

As a Christ-follower, I need to have that kind of life.  People should not need for me to tell them that I’m a Christian in order for them to experience the message of the gospel in some form through how I life, how I interact with them, how I decide to use my time, my money, my energy and whatever resources that I have. I think my life is baffling to some. I don’t think it astonishes or angers anybody, and I’m not looking to do that for its own sake.  But my life needs to be different, regardless of how uncomfortable it makes me feel. I have conversations here and there with some of my co-workers.  And when we talk about what we do with our time, what we do away from work, it’s hard to connect because it’s so different. I tell them that I spend a lot of time with college students. Before that it was with junior high and high school students.  And I’d tell them, “because I teach them the bible”.  Everybody’s polite about it, saying “oh, that’s cool.”  But the conversation ends there.  Sometimes it gets a little awkward.

Sometimes, speaking truth does make people angry, though.  When I have to have uncomfortable and difficult conversations with people to help them process some truth about themselves that others see but they themselves don’t, that’s hard because I don’t like the potential consequences of that.  We just heard yesterday about some stories when these conversations do lead to growth and maturity, which is wonderful.  But, sadly, there are a lot of stories when it didn’t pan out that way.  Now, I’d never say that it’s as difficult as the early church and what Apostle Paul experienced.  When I think about that, then I just have to be quiet.  But today, that’s one of the harder things that I face.  My life needs to be that life at times, though, because being a Christ-follower means something.  So, it needs to mean something for me, and so it needs to mean something to the people around me as well.

PERSONAL PRAYER

God, I know that I need to be courageous in my followership of you.  Thank you for changing my life as much as you already have.  That means a great deal to me, and I want it to show through my interactions with people in particular.  I’ve had to have some difficult conversations in recent days, and I know that there are going to be some up-coming.  That’s one of the things that I’m the most afraid of.  I commit to overcoming that fear by holding to the love that you have shown me on the cross and through the way’s you’ve changed and molded my life through others who did not shrink away from that very same fear.  I pray that in those ways my life might properly represent you to astonish some, baffle some and perhaps even anger others, so that at least my life will define my allegiances and possibly be a fork in the road for them.

Submitted by James Kim, Gracepoint Berkeley
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One Response to “February 28, 2011 Devotion Sharing”

  1. Jeff Chiu says:

    wow, thank you for sharing! This week’s DT has been kind of hard for me to make applications… But after reading this sharing, I can make more personal application as to how I can live like Apostle Paul on a day to day basis.

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