Imagine what it must have been like for Saul of Tarsus after his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus. Here was a man who sincerely believed with all his heart that he was defending the truth of God. But he has just discovered that he had been violently fighting against his God. How traumatic that must have been. Acts 9:9 merely says that he couldn’t see and didn’t eat or drink for three days. He couldn’t see, because he had been blinded by the bright light. (The others were not.) But the fasting was his part. He must have been in deep mourning over his actions against the very God he thought he loved. Indeed, he may have been so distressed that he couldn’t eat. It has to be a terrifying thing to suddenly realize that everything you have placed your energies into has been 180 degrees off!
One or two thoughts:
First, we can be dead wrong on issues we think are critical. What would it take to make us do an about-face on the direction of our lives? Think of your most fundamental belief. What if you were to suddenly be shown beyond any doubt that it was wrong? How would you feel? That’s what Saul would have been experiencing during his three days of blindness in Damascus (and for some time after).
Secondly, this is exactly what we are expecting the atheist, the agnostic, the Muslim, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the materialist, and so many others to go through when we ask them to come to Christ. We tend to think it’s a simple, single step. Far from it! And one of the scariest prospects for them is to begin associating with us – a group they consider to be anti-everything they currently consider to be right.
We must not trivialize evangelism as simply sharing an outline and saying a prayer. It is the work of God in the hearts of men and women, girls and boys. He has chosen to use us in the process first and foremost by the testimony of our lives as a demonstration and proof of His love (John 13:34-35; 17:21,23). Then he is able to use our voices as we gently give an answer to the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15-16).
Finally, are we really open to the leading of the Holy Spirit? We hold many beliefs about which there are disagreements even among our brothers and sisters in Christ. Opposite views cannot all be true. Am I so arrogant to think that all my views are the ones that are?
Lord, guide me into your truth in the things You want me to know. Help me to understand what’s really important to the extent to which you want me to understand. Grant me the willingness to hold loosely those things that are not so important and to allow others to do the same. Most of all, help me to be compassionate and understanding of those who oppose You, to pray for your work in their lives, and to be ready for your timing and direction to share your good news with them.