Thursday, January 25, 2018

“It is a myth that man in his natural state is genuinely seeking God. Men do seek God. But they do not seek him for who he is. They seek him in a pinch as one who might preserve them from death or enhance their worldly enjoyments…….. Apart from conversion, no one comes to the light of God.”

"The men who followed Jesus were unique in their generation. They turned the world upside down because their hearts had been turned right side up. The world has never been the same."- Billy Graham: (born November 7, 1918: is an American evangelical Christian evangelist)

Scripture Text: (ACTS 22:3-16)
Paul addressed the people in these words:
"I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia,
but brought up in this city.
At the feet of Gamaliel I was educated strictly in our ancestral law
and was zealous for God, just as all of you are today.
I persecuted this Way to death,
binding both men and women and delivering them to prison.
Even the high priest and the whole council of elders
can testify on my behalf.
For from them I even received letters to the brothers
and set out for Damascus to bring back to Jerusalem
in chains for punishment those there as well.

"On that journey as I drew near to Damascus,
about noon a great light from the sky suddenly shone around me.
I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me,
'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?'
I replied, 'Who are you, sir?'
And he said to me,
'I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting.'
My companions saw the light
but did not hear the voice of the one who spoke to me.
I asked, 'What shall I do, sir?'
The Lord answered me, 'Get up and go into Damascus,
and there you will be told about everything
appointed for you to do.'
Since I could see nothing because of the brightness of that light,
I was led by hand by my companions and entered Damascus.

"A certain Ananias, a devout observer of the law,
and highly spoken of by all the Jews who lived there,
came to me and stood there and said,
'Saul, my brother, regain your sight.'
And at that very moment I regained my sight and saw him.
Then he said,
'The God of our ancestors designated you to know his will,
to see the Righteous One, and to hear the sound of his voice;
for you will be his witness before all
to what you have seen and heard.
Now, why delay?
Get up and have yourself baptized and your sins washed away,
calling upon his name.'"

Conversion - a turning around or a turning toward.  While I only know a couple of people in my life who have had an experience of the Divine similar to St. Paul’s that was direct, palpable, immediate and severe (and they are equally powerful stories, let me tell you!), the majority of us have had more subtle encounters with conversion.  

Take a moment now and stop reading this reflection to consider:
What moments in my life led me to turn more directly toward God?
Who or what played a role in my conversion?
How did I respond?

When it comes down to it Christianity is about the daily, small conversions we encounter.  Those somewhat innocuous and incarnational moments on a Tuesday afternoon in the midst of raising kids, paying bills, and working jobs when we get to make the choice to say “yes!” to God’s invitation to do all of that from a place of love.

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