The New Testament describes Paul (earlier known as Saul) as a Jewish man born in Tarsus, but brought up in Jerusalem under the teaching of the famous Jewish rabbi, Gamaliel. He was early on in life a zealot, eagerly devoted to his God, and thought it was necessary to do many things against the name, character, and authority of Jesus of Nazareth.
Saul must have heard that the believers in Jesus were preaching the message of this “other rabbi,” because he asked for permission to go to Damascus. Acts 9:1 says Saul was even breathing out murderous threats against those who were followers (disciples) of Jesus. And this leads to one important event, one that is recorded 3 times in the book of Acts.
Read Acts 9:1-31.
Damascus was 150 miles north of Jerusalem, but four to six day’s travel. As Saul and his companions neared the city about noon, a light from heaven suddenly flashed around Saul. He shut his eyes because of the blazing brightness, but he saw Jesus. When he opened them, he could see nothing. His pals took him into Damascus where he stayed for 3 days, unable to see.
On the third day the Lord Jesus appeared in a vision to a Jewish believer named Ananias. V 10-11 says the Lord told Ananias to go to the street named Straight, to the house of Judas, and ask for a man named Saul of Tarsus, who was praying. And get this, while he was praying, Saul received a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so that he might receive his sight back.
Ananias objected at first. He had heard from a lot of folks about the bad things Saul had done to the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. The Lord again commanded Ananias to go and reassured him that Saul was His chosen instrument to carry His name before the Gentiles (the nations), and also the kings and people of Israel.
So Ananias obeyed, found the house of Judas, went in, and laid his hands on Saul, “calling” him brother. By doing so, he recognized Saul as a believer. The New Testament never records anything else about Ananias. He probably continued living an obedient life to the Lord. But Saul would never forget the godly man who first called him brother.
This is the kind of conversion we are seeing on campuses nationwide. We are praying, watching and participating with the Holy Spirit in the mission of making the name of Jesus more famous in the student world from places like Stanford to the University of Minnesota to Brown, Yale, Rutger’s, Ohio University, the University of Florida and The University of Louisiana-Lafayette.
Chi Alpha staff and students want to be available for whatever spiritual gifts the Holy Spirit may want to bless us with, in order that others might believe and come to flourish, which is God’s design for all of us. Like Saul of Tarsus experienced the Person of Jesus, will you pray that key Jewish students will become followers of Jesus? And Muslims? Athletes? Professors? Key student leaders all over campus? Your classmates and roommates?
Live communally. Who has played the role of Ananias in your life? To whom does the Lord want you to play that part? Wise men and women still seek Him, and also bear witness to Him.
Love is a verb,
©2015 by Mike Olejarz