Message: All I Do Is Win . . .
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Sam Millen
Live Wonder: Jessyka Albert
Live Adventure: Jessyka Albert
Live Purpose: Jason Calvert
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Open with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Acts 9:1–9 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: In the introduction to his latest book, Paul: A Biography, N.T. Wright points out how, “The term ‘Damascus Road’ has become proverbial, referring to any sudden transformation in personal belief or character, any ‘conversion,’ whether ‘religious,’ political,’ or even aesthetic. One can imagine a critic declaring that, having previously detested the music of David Bowie, he had now had a ‘Damascus Road’ moment and had come to love it.” Wright argues, “This contemporary proverbial usage gets in the way. It makes it harder for us to understand the original event. So does the language of ‘conversion’ itself.”
He asks, “How did Saul the persecutor become Paul the Apostle? What sort of transition was that? Was it in any sense a ‘conversion’? Did Paul ‘switch religions’? Or can we accept Paul’s own account that, in following the crucified Jesus and announcing that Israel’s God had raised Him from the dead, he was actually being loyal to his ancestral traditions, though in a way neither he nor anyone else had anticipated?”
Perhaps Acts 9:1–9 is not simply a case study in switching sides, attitudes, opinions, or conduct, but a call to go deeper in our understanding of Jesus. Saul was highly trained and thoroughly educated in religious matters, but he missed the point of it all. Jesus Christ was (and is) the point. Saul didn’t have to change religions; he only needed to see Jesus differently. Saul didn’t just create a little space for Jesus in his theology—he placed Jesus at the very center (see Colossians 1:15–20).
In 1889 (note the year), Ellen White wrote, “A spirit of pharisaism has been coming in upon the people who claim to believe the truth for these last days. They are self-satisfied. They have said, ‘We have the truth. There is no more light for the people of God.’ But we are not safe when we take a position that we will not accept anything else than that upon which we have settled as truth” (Review and Herald, June 18, 1889). At the 1888 General Conference session, Adventism needed to see Jesus differently. Not merely create a little space for Jesus as one of many doctrines, but honor Jesus as the very center of faith.
Saul reimagined Judaism with Jesus at the center. After attending five One project gatherings, I have been inspired to reimagine Adventism. The Sabbath—Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath; The State of the Dead—Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life; The Judgment—Jesus is the Judge; The Second Coming—Jesus is Coming. Jesus. All.
Recalibrate: Do you need to see Jesus differently today?
Respond: Pray for the Holy Spirit to glorify Jesus to you and through you.
Research: Read the Introduction to Paul: A Biography (2018) by N.T. Wright.
Ask your child who Jesus is. Maybe they can answer you with their own words; maybe they are still too young. But as they grow up, they will learn more about Jesus and be able to articulate who He is. How are you showing them an authentic, real, living Jesus?
Was there ever a vegetable that you used to hate but now like? What changed your mind about it? Maybe it was broccoli or green beans or peas. At first, Saul didn’t like Jesus, but on the road to Damascus he saw Jesus in a different way.
Have you ever felt lost, confused, or angry? Have you ever felt like you’re spinning your wheels and going nowhere while life, church, God, school, family, and friends just don’t get it? Ever felt eerily disconnected? This week we're unpacking a story about how God chose to chase after a man who was directly attacking Him—an enemy. The Scriptures are packed with examples of God chasing His enemies—and embracing them. Who or what feels like an enemy? What would it look like to connect with this person or thing? How is God, at this very moment, chasing and embracing you?