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FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
 

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

ON EVANGELIZATION AND MISSION
(Part 108)

COMMISSIONED TO PREACH THE GOSPEL – 11


May 10, 2019
Today’s reading: Acts 9:1-20


What makes for an evangelizer and missionary, especially one living in worldly ways? It is an encounter with Jesus that results in conversion. The pattern is the same for all: meet Christ, start to live Christ, then share Christ.

It was the same with Saul, who became Paul. He was steeped in darkness and sin, even greatly persecuting Christians, but then became a great apostle. It started with a dramatic encounter with Jesus. On the road to Damascus, in search of Christians to imprison, a light flashed, he fell to the ground, and heard a voice say, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (v.4). Saul asked, “‘Who are you, sir?’ The reply came, ‘I am Jesus’” (v.5).

That was the start of Saul’s conversion. And what a turnaround it was! From “breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord” (v.1) to going “to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.” (v.20). From being an instrument of the chief priests “to imprison all who call upon (Jesus’) name” (v.14) to becoming “a chosen instrument of (Jesus) to carry (his) name before Gentiles, kings, and Israelites.” (v.15). From being blinded from the truth and filled with rage against God’s people, with “what evil things he has done to (God’s) holy ones” (v.13) to being caused by Jesus to “regain (his) sight and be filled with the holy Spirit.” (v.17b). Saul went from one camp to the opposing camp. He went from persecuting Jesus to proclaiming him.

What do we learn from this episode?

One, no one is beyond the reach of God’s love and mercy. No one, even the worst among men, is beyond conversion and experiencing a 180-degree transformation. By the grace of God and the infilling of the Holy Spirit, conversion can happen. Do we judge some bad people as beyond redemption?

Two, Saul was zealous in persecuting Christians. Upon conversion, Paul was zealous in promoting the Christian faith. Many people, including so-called Christians, are zealous in the pursuit of money, power, position and pleasure. But many of them, when they meet Christ and undergo conversion, are not as zealous in proclaiming the gospel. Conversion, or metanoia, should change us completely for the better, from the ways of the world to the ways of the Lord, from secular pursuits to mission. And with a loftier purpose, indeed a divine work, our zeal should remain, even intensify. Where is your zeal focused?

Three, to be a witness to Jesus is to suffer. This would be just like Saul, chosen as an instrument of Jesus, of whom Jesus said, “I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.” (v.16). The world is antagonistic to the gospel, and those who preach it can expect opposition, hardship, suffering and persecution. But such suffering will be our badge of honor. Will you still go and proclaim the gospel of salvation in Jesus?

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