Different Hearts, Different Reactions
In Acts 9 Luke records for us the conversion of Saul. We know from the previous chapter that Saul was a man out in front leading the persecution of the newly established Church. Saul, being commissioned by the high priest, was on his way to Damascus on a mission to find more of these belonging to “the Way” and bring them back to Jerusalem.
The Lord appeared to Saul and as he fell to the ground he heard a voice of the Lord. Saul’s response was “Who are you, Lord?” The men who were with him led him into Damascus where he would wait for 3 days. There was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord appeared to him in a vision as well. Ananias’s response was “Here I am, Lord.” Ananias was then given instructions to go and meet Saul and lay his hands on him.
What we can easily see here is that there are two different hearts with two different reactions. Maybe at first glance we easily conclude that there are different reactions because one was a disciple and the other was not. That definitely does play a part into the different reactions. We know that because we have the entire story from an inspired perspective. However, if we were there in Saul’s (Paul) day and were to ask him at that time I think that he would be fully convinced he was a follower of God.
When Paul gives his own testimony in Acts 22 he reminds the Jews of his Jewish upbringing, his education at the feet of Gamaliel, and also “being zealous for God as all of you are this day.” He believed what he was doing was a service to God. Jesus said this would happen in John 16:2-3 – “They will put you our of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. and they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me.” What’s interesting to me is how convinced and convicted Saul was about what he was doing and for whom and yet when the Lord spoke to him his response was “Who are you, Lord?”
I think a simple lesson for us today is that it takes open hearts to be able to hear and recognize what the Lord is saying to us. While God doesn’t speak to us in the manner He did to Saul and Ananias today, He still speaks to us through His word. Often times we struggle to hear what He is saying because our hearts aren’t open. How often have our opinions, biases, or perspectives gotten in the way of really hearing and understanding what God’s will is for our lives?
Paul, like all disciples, had to fully surrender his will to God and put aside everything he thought he understood and accept the gospel message given to him by God. Over 14 years later Paul would find himself talking to those in Galatia teaching them that there is only one gospel and it’s not man’s gospel but the Lord’s. Though he had taught them the gospel others had come in and taught a different gospel. Paul said “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-7)
John reminds us in 1 John 4:1 “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Do we have hearts that are ready to listen? When the Lord speaks to us through His word, maybe through one another, will our hearts respond “Who are you, Lord?” or will they respond “Here I am, Lord.” Let’s diligently seek God in all that we do and have hearts ready to listen. Seek Him by acknowledging His greatness in everything around us, through studying His word, by talking to Him in prayer, and by increasing in fellowship with His people.