Paul gets his orders from the top: “I will rescue you from your people and from the Gentiles–to whom I am sending you to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” (Acts 26:9-21 NRSV).
Paul’s conversion was quick and easy. He was so bad that Jesus had to slam-dunk him. Jesus then put Paul in charge of reining in the Gentiles. St. Paul went from being an enemy of the cause to becoming a leader of the cause in a wink of the eye. It is illegal for hunters to spotlight certain game like deer. When a bright light is shone on the animal, it freezes and gives the hunter a clear shot for the kill. Jesus spotlighted Paul and shot him right in the heart. He then reformed Paul’s heart and sent him into the world to open the eyes of the Gentiles.
Why can’t it be that quick for me? It’s taken me nearly a lifetime to get anywhere near Paul’s spiritual level. Maybe I haven’t been bad enough. Maybe the Lord thinks that I’m not a big threat to Him. My heart may be in the right place and I’m just too lazy to act on God’s call to me. He doesn’t need lazy people in His cause. Paul was a zealous man. Jesus took that energy and by appearing to Paul in a dramatic way, turned him into an advocate for the new life.
The new life in Christ is a life of action. That which Jesus was calling Paul to do, He is calling us to do also. He is calling us to go and open the eyes of the unfaithful so that they may turn away from darkness and to the light of Christ. We are called to snatch our deprived brothers and sisters from the hands of Satan and bring them to God where there is forgiveness of their sins and salvation. St. Paul said, “Who are you Lord?” ‘The Lord answered,’ “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” If we are not active for the Lord, are we not persecuting Him through our inaction?
The Father through the Son and the Holy Spirit will rescue us from our detractors if we turn to Him and seek His will in the world. Jesus told His disciples (Matthew 10:22 NRSV), “And you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Pray that Jesus will spotlight us and reform our hearts for Him.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.