Finding God's Winning Spirit

The Damascus Road

July 21, 2014 | Greg Smith | Christianity

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It has been said that the Apostle Paul is responsible for approximately 25% of the New Testament. Some scholars believe that Paul actually is in some way responsible for fourteen of the twenty-five books we find there. What this means is if you take out the Gospels and Paul's Epistles we could probably read the New Testament in 20 min. The point here is that Paul's contribution to the New Testament, and our concept of Christian theology is paramount.

As a seminary student I spent many hours studying Pauline theology and his understanding and relationship with God was phenomenal. But one thing has spoken to me more than Paul's intellect and understanding and that is Paul's life and how God uses us to move his Will forward. Saul to Paul is a phenomenal story, and we can learn a lot from it.

Saul of Tarsus was a Jew and Roman citizen. Saul had been raised in the synagogue and educated well beyond the average Jew. Paul was considered a Jewish scholar who studied under the noted religious teacher Gamaliel and was in fact a Pharisee (Acts 23:6). Saul was a committed follower of God. As a matter of fact it was this strong sense of faith that pitted Saul against the early Christian movement. Paul, as a defender of God, felt obligated to crush this blasphemous cult.

Most of us are familiar with Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. Following-up on a lead that Christians had been writing letters to Rome from Damascus Paul was on his way to investigate and arrest those Christians. It was here on the road to Damascus that Saul was struck blind and three days later healed by Ananias. It is worth noting that Ananias knew exactly who Saul was and when told to go baptize him responded to God by saying "do you know this guy is?"(Acts 9:13)

I believe that there are some things we can learn from Paul's personal journey. It must have been quite a shock for Paul to realize that even though he was devoted to God that he was so totally wrong and misguided in his belief. The message here for us is that no matter how bright, educated or dedicated we are about our faith we might be wrong (certainly not always right). To dig our heels in and think that we are in a position to judge and evaluate the faith of others is dangerous and can be sinful.

Another thing that stands out here for me is who God actually uses to spread his Word. The First Century Christian (much like Ananias) would not expect the message of Jesus Christ to be coming from the leading terrorist of their movement. We need to guard against determining who we think God can use to bring us a refreshing word from Him. We need to realize that even though we are limited in our minds about the value and insight of others — God is not.

I like Paul because we are similar. What I mean by that is God quite often has to strike me blind to get my attention. I am sure that Saul would rather have had God gently speak to him at a local pub rather than striking him blind on a dusty road to Damascus. That is not how God always works. We need be willing to see God's revelation no matter how it comes (I can tell you from being a chaplain in the hospital that we tend to pay more attention when things aren't perfect).

Probably the most meaningful lesson in the life of Paul for me revolves around the use and misuse of God's gifts. It doesn't take much to take those gifts that God has given us and squander or misdirect them. The transition from Saul to Paul was not about learning or acquiring different gifts it was about following Christ. God has created us with the gifts we need to glorify him and live the abundant life we just need to follow him. Paul would have been notorious without following Christ but became victorious instead.

    

I also find it interesting that Jesus called the Pharisees blind to the truth. So Paul, was literally and physically made blind to drive the point home that he was also spiritually blind. like the Pharisees
Posted by jerry on
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