Message: The Road to Damascus
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Daily Walk: Japhet De Oliveira
Refresh: Open with prayer. Read or listen to Psalm 85:1-8.
Read: Acts 9:1-22 (ESV). Re-read in the English Standard Version for new insights or questions.
Reflect: Paul was, in his own mind, following God. He was passionately engaged in preserving his tribe at all costs. He was applying theology and ideology to defend his position—even when that position went against his core belief in the sanctity of life. Even though the Torah explicitly commands people on thirty-six occasions to love the stranger. Jesus' choosing to make Paul go blind was really a “stroke of genius." Paul was suppressing the voice of God in his life. He had substituted the will of God, the mission of God, for his own mission. He was spiritually blind. As J. Bradley Chance puts it:
There was no doubt in his mind; he saw clearly the will and way of God. And yet Paul was blind He did not see at all. He was not a vessel of the Lord, but an instrument of even. He was not beyond redemption for no one is beyond the reach of God; but he lived in a kind of spiritual darkness no less real than the physical darkness that overwhelmed him on the way to Damascus. The Acts narrative, which pals on the image of Paul’s sight, provides an intriguing intertext with what Paul himself has to say about seeing: “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.; when I became an adult, I put an end to the childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Cor 13:11-12) (Acts, p.156).
The struggle of Paul is the same as our struggle today. Hopefully, we do not impose prison or death on others, but we do often impose our ideas on others in a way that can be extremely harmful. Everybody wants to know that they have lined up their will with the will of God. Tomorrow we will explore how we can do that in the most balanced way. For today, the challenge before us is how to hold what we believe is true and engage those we meet with a transformative faith. We need understanding that everyone has their unique road to travel. Paul grew in his approach after the road to Damascus. While he was initially all about the law with no grace, he went on to challenge us all to live by grace without forgetting the law.
Respond: Pray for sight.
Research: What are the psychological effects of temporary blindness?