July 10 I Tuesday
“As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’” —Acts 9:3-4
Traditional wisdom tells us that a man with experience is more powerful than a man with an argument. Saul’s experience on the Damascus Road was certainly one that would be indelibly engraved in his heart and mind. But such a dramatic encounter with the risen Christ seems unfair to many people. He was on his way to persecute and imprison Christians! Bent on annihilating the Christian movement, he would appear the least likely candidate to have been shown the grace of God, especially in such an expedient and striking fashion.
Many people today, though they have not physically encountered the risen Christ, have also experienced dramatic conversions: some lying at death’s door, others in maximum prisons, and others on the verge of destruction because of addictions. Suddenly they discover the power of the living Christ and their lives take a 180-degree turn. On the other hand, there are many people brought up in a Christian home who have understood the Gospel from youth and have always felt secure with no need to rebel. Sometimes they question the quality of their experience of God because they have not undergone anything dramatic that perhaps would have made a difference.
Is this sudden supernatural intervention, as was Saul’s experience, an arbitrary act of God? Does it hold more weight than the subtler inner witness of the Holy Spirit more commonly experienced by others? It is unquestionably true that the initiative in the salvation of any human being belongs with God as the Christian life does not begin with human discovery, but with divine revelation. What is equally true is that this is not the sole ingredient in a person’s salvation, and therefore, not purely an arbitrary act of God.
Paul, as Saul was later known, writes to the Romans, “…since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20). What Paul is saying is that the general revelation in creation, if followed through, is sufficient to lead people to salvation, but there must be a reciprocating response to the revelation God has given us.
Whether we come to Christ dramatically or non-dramatically is not the issue. The issue is in appropriating the revelation God has given us into our lives. And it is in the staying power, the intimacy of our communion with Christ and obedience to Him that holds the weight in Christian living.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for revealing Yourself to me. I pray for a deeply abiding relationship in which I may come to experience more of You. Thank You, Lord.