Most of us are familiar with the story of Saul and the road to Damascus, but if you aren’t, you will still be able to take away the heart of what I’m trying to communicate through this simple blog. My heart in writing this is to inspire growth in any Christian’s life who is currently pursuing a life after the heart of Jesus. How do we get closer to Jesus? What does it look like to live as one of his Disciples? Look at the life of – mainly the conversion of – Saul, the zealot, from a life in Judaism and legality, to Paul the apostle, the Christian, who is sold out for Jesus and his namesake. Being a part of Youth with A Missions’ Discipleship training schools in Lakeside, Montana, I have seen what happened to Paul, take place in the life of many as well as my own. There are three simple aspects I want to point out, that lead someone to a place that we all desire, in knowing Christ more and becoming someone who lives a life abandoned to Jesus.
No one I know has had as traumatic of a conversion and revelation as Paul did while traveling to Damascus. Jesus reveals himself to Paul in a bright light from heaven (Acts 9:3) that knocks him to the ground. Followed by a voice, which Paul immediately recognizes as his Lord. Not the ‘Christianese Lord’, but one who is supreme over Paul, one who is in control over Paul. Paul recognizes Jesus as this, it seems fitting if we place ourselves in the scenario. Not only do we see this in the way Paul addresses him with his words, but also in his obedience following Jesus’ command. (Which, let’s be honest, if a voice coming from a light gave you a command and takes your sight, you’d probably do whatever it’s asking.) Paul surrenders to Jesus. He has a revelation, and he responds.
If we are truly looking to have our lives transformed, it must start here. We MUST recognize Jesus as Lord, as God, as the one who is know over and in charge of your life. This is how we look up. Looking up changes the way our minds work. We become aligned with His will, disregarding our own. That is how Jesus becomes Lord in our lives. In this, we also see how God is faithful to Paul, in restoring his sight, and making his plan for Paul to be used as God’s instrument start to take place.
After Paul receives his sight back, he starts to have his entire foundation violently shaken. All that he thought he knew, and the life of ‘righteousness’ he was living, now was being re-constructed. Paul spent a period of time re-learning all he thought he knew, as Jesus now had become a part of his life. Things that Paul thought he understood, things he heard and studied his entire life, as all good little Jewish boys did. How do I know this? With there being a few years in between his conversion and his ministry time, as he talks about in Galatians 1, look at the life before and after. Instead of seeing the Law as something to abide by, it became a way for Paul to know the heart of the Lord, that is, to live and dwell with his people.
In the same way Paul’s foundation was shaken, we too must submit all we have heard, read and studied at the feet of Jesus. This would allow true change, not just in behavior, but also in the ‘roots’, or heart of our lives. Instead of legalism being the face of Christianity, the relationship God has always desired for his people takes root. This is how we look in. You allow Jesus to speak identity over you and, things you have always heard, start to make sense. Your character and maturity move more toward Jesus. It may look like taking a few years, as did Paul, to submerge yourself in the Word and in time spent just with Jesus, develop character and discipline. Which leads me to the final aspect we can see in the transformation of Saul to Paul.
After Paul’s time away, as he has come to know the Lord over his life, and God has made him into his instrument, he heads into the world of the Gentiles (non-believers) with a new purpose and mission. After being submerged in the will of his Lord, his goal has changed dramatically. Instead of looking to do harm to the church, his new mission is bringing as many as are willing into the church.
As we spend more and more time in the presence of Jesus, God changes our character and we become more discipling in the things that draw us closer to Him, what now? Now we Look Out. When we truly know Jesus as Lord over our lives and we have submitted to His will above ours and we spent time allowing Him to shape our ‘foundation’, it is but a reaction to overflow with all we have been given. This is Missions. Missions are not an obligation or a duty as Christians. Now hear my heart here, Missions can become just a sense of legality. SUCCESSFUL Missions, however, come because we have started to grasp just a little bit of who Jesus really is! Missions becomes an outflow because our hearts are now starting to resemble His!
I don’t claim to be a theologian or a scholar, but I do know things we see in Paul’s life have been a part of my life. If you are truly hungry to see God work in your life and become the Lord of your life, if you are looking to pursue this relationship with Jesus, you will find that missions, or ministry, will become an overflow of life with Him. These three aspects of Paul’s life, and what I hope to become a part of your life, won’t be a one-time occurrence. Rather, I believe in it becoming a part of the Christian life. We need Him to reveal Himself, to change us, to reach others, to see more of who He is, to change us, to reach others… etc.