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(Part 13)


January 25, 2011

Today’s readings
Acts 22:3-16
Psalm 117:1-2
Mark 16:15-18

Today’s psalm is the shortest hymn in the book of Psalms. It tells us about the strong and faithful God who relates to us. “The Lord’s love for us is strong; the Lord is faithful forever.” (Ps 117:2). It is a wonderful assurance of the great extent of God’s love, and how God will work in and through us in order for us to fully experience that love, until we finally get to heaven.

Now God’s strong love extends to all of His creation. God intended for all humanity to be with Him eternally in paradise. But paradise was lost. Now, by sending His Son Jesus to win for us our salvation, we can once again be restored to God’s eternal plan. Our destiny is to make it to heaven, the new paradise, where we will be in the eternal presence of God, given the privilege to worship Him forever. God wants this for all. “Praise the Lord, all you nations! Give glory, all you peoples!” (Ps 117:1).

How can all this happen? Well, Jesus already won for us our salvation. But people need to accept what he has done, and accept him as Savior and Lord. For that to happen, the good news of salvation in Jesus needs to be proclaimed. That is why Jesus commissioned his disciples, and by extension all of us who profess to be followers of Christ. “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk 16:15-16a).

Thus the way of salvation as designed by God is already in place. Jesus sends his disciples, who proclaim the good news, which is heard and accepted by others, who then can experience his salvation. So it seems that since God has already done His part, the crucial aspect in the process is our response to Jesus’ commission. This is where things can bog down. When the workers respond, there will be a big harvest. When they do not, the good news is not proclaimed and people remain in darkness.

It is therefore of utmost importance for God’s people to act. This basically involves two things: one, knowing Christ and living in him, and two, going out to serve him, especially to evangelize. In this, just like Paul, we need to ask two questions: (1) “Who are you, sir?” (Acts 22:8a), and (2) “What shall I do, sir?” (Acts 22:10a).

Who is Jesus to us? We must first of all realize that, with our sins, we are persecuting him (Acts 22:8b). It was our sin that cause him to be nailed to the cross. It is our sin that causes him to continue to be flogged, spat upon and nailed. Seeing what Jesus has done and continues to do for us, we should realize who he really is. He is the God whose love for us is so strong that he died for us. Now he calls us to fullness of life in him.

How can we not respond to such great love? And so we look to the next question: What should we do? First we must be led to repentance. Then we turn to faith in Jesus. We accept him as Savior and Lord. We turn our lives over to him. We obey him. We follow in his footsteps. We grow in holiness. This is the fullness of our realization of who Jesus is.

Further, having heard the great commission from Jesus himself, we must commit ourselves to the work of evangelization. In this we realize that by not gathering we scatter, that is, by not evangelizing, we are contributing to people remaining in darkness and sin. Not responding to God’s call to evangelize is still continuing to persecute Jesus.

I pray that God’s great light will shine upon you (Acts 22:6). His grace is more than enough. If we do not harden our hearts, we will realize who he is and what he calls us to do. We need to fall to the ground (Acts 22:7a), that is, be humbled by Jesus’ great love, and know how much we have persecuted him, and thus repent and humble ourselves before him. If we humble ourselves, then we will hear his voice speaking to us (Acts 22:7b). Jesus makes clear who we are to be and what we are to do.

Jesus calls each of you, just like he called Paul, to “be his witness before all to what you have seen and heard.” (Acts 22:15). Go forth and proclaim the good news of God’s love and of salvation in Jesus. God’s love for us is strong, and we in turn become strong in God as we do his work.

“Now, why delay?” (Acts 22:16a).

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