Day 12: Saul in Damascus and Jerusalem
When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.
So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews, but they tried to kill him. When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
I don’t know if you have ever been put in a situation of having to trust someone, when really you aren’t 100% comfortable with what they might say or do. I feel that every time I get given a microphone there is at least one person with this fear.
This is the situation the disciples find themselves in after Paul’s incredible conversion to Christianity. Suddenly this man who made it his mission to seek christians out and to bring them back for punishment is standing on the other side of an encounter with God and the disciples can’t quite believe it.
Yet what makes the difference in this situation is the testimony of Barnabas, who is able to give evidence of Paul’s conversion but more than that to share how he preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. It then says Paul stayed in Jerusalem and preached boldly even when faced with a very real risk of death.
I have wondered what would have became of Paul if he hadn’t been accepted by the Apostles? If Barnabas hadn’t have interrupted and backed his corner.
But I think the answer to that is; Paul would have just continued doing what he was doing, because he was a man who lived by convictions, not the praises of men. I think the only people who would have lost out would have been the disciples.
How often do you think we are at risk of missing out on all that God wants to do because a certain person, opportunity or situation isn’t packaged the way we thought it would be? How often do we miss out because of a fear of the unknown. The Apostle Paul was a gift to the church, whose writings we still preach from today and will for generations to come. Yet the package he was presented as to the early disciples wasn’t what they expected.
The times we find ourselves in at the moment are not our normal, we probably would have all chosen a slightly different outcome to this, we’d have packaged it differently. But, it’s here. And I believe God wants to move in this time, not just across the world but in your life.
Could it be that inside this oddly packaged gift called isolation and social distancing that we could really grow in our relationship with God? Could it be that we could introduce new normals of expectancy, of prayer, of bible reading, of loving people into our lives?
All we need to do is make a choice to pursue faith above fear.
Ps Ed Winbow
Penrith Campus Pastor