“Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.” (Acts 9:15)
“Lord, you’ve got to be kidding…”
I’m sure something like this was going through the mind of Ananias when God called him to go minister to Saul. After all, this guy was viciously hunting down the Christians, putting them in prison or worse! He was bad news, and it was practically suicide to approach him in the name of Jesus.
Yesterday’s devotion focused on following the guidance of the Holy Spirit as He directs us to minister to people in all different walks of life. But sometimes the High Commander gives us orders that are so absurd, so ridiculous, so dangerous, that we can’t help but second guess.
It must certainly have taken a lot of guts and a lot of faith for Ananias to go to Saul and heal him in the name of Jesus. For one thing, he was putting his own life into the hands of a sworn enemy of the Way. For another thing, helping this nemesis of the Church probably would not have been a very popular choice among the believers in Damascus.
Most of us probably aren’t called to witness in situations quite as hostile as this. However, we must recognize that God can and does use very unlikely men and women to act as His chosen instruments. Besides, we are called to bring the Gospel to all nations – even to those who may initially react to it with hostility. We must certainly pray continually for those who boldly follow in the footsteps of heroes like Ananias, bringing the message of salvation into the “danger zones” of spiritual enmity. We ask God to watch over them and keep them safe, and also to send His Holy Spirit to bend the hearts of those to whom they minister.
Even if we don’t face physical danger for the sake of our witness, we may still be able to relate somewhat to Ananias’ situation. There are people in our society that many believers feel are “unworthy” of receiving the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Some men and women have done terrible things in their past, hurting or even killing innocent people. It may not be popular – even within the Church – to show kindness to them and bring them the message of salvation after what they have done. So we pray also that God would give us the strength and courage to bring His love even to terrible “sinners” who don’t deserve it (I know the irony isn’t lost on you…), and also that the Holy Spirit would work in all believers to foster an attitude of forgiveness and evangelism within the Church.
God’s Word is powerful. Many times before, the roots of the Gospel have sprung forth and penetrated even hearts of solid stone. In fact, it is these unlikely plots that often produce some of the most amazing crops!
“’Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?’ Simon replied, ‘I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.’ ‘You have judged correctly,’ Jesus said.” (Luke 7:41-43)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me a deeper understanding of Your righteous Law, that I may fully appreciate the vastness of my debt of sin. Help me to boldly share the Gospel even with those who despise You and Your servants. Watch over all those who proclaim Your Word to their own hazard. Bless the Gospel message that they preach, that those who hear it may come to know You, through Jesus Christ, Your Son, my Lord. Amen.