“‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked.
“‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied.” Acts 22:8 (NIV)
Before the Apostle Paul was dramatically converted on the road to Damascus, he was fanatically devoted to God. He zealously wanted to serve God fully by getting rid of any threats or imposters who were tarnishing his faith. This caused Paul, who was known as Saul at the time, to mercilessly hunt down men and women who professed to be Christians, in order to detain them in prison and make them pay for their crimes against God and His chosen people. Wherever he found dissent, Saul eradicated it quickly; whoever was known to be a disciple of Christ was brought before the authorities and cast into jail. The future apostle also gave his strident assent to the stoning and killing of Christian leaders. His zeal knew no compassion; his audacity knew no bounds; his fanatic faith was vehemently unleashed.
And then Jesus intervened, completely changing Saul’s life forever. On the road to Damascus, the Lord confronted Saul and rebuked him for persecuting Christ Himself. Whatever Saul thought he was doing faithfully for God, he was actually doing for himself and attacking Jesus personally. Saul’s self-righteousness rejected any self-awareness that he was wrong and his pride completely enveloped his sin. Instead of being on God’s side, Saul was actually separating himself from God by zealously attacking his enemies and expressing his faith in ferocious ways. Jesus showed him the truth and turned him away from the self-destructive path he was headed down. Saul’s salvation required him to surrender his pride; his deliverance needed him to turn away from his uncompromising and dangerous zeal.
As Christians, we all want to serve God faithfully and become true disciples of Christ. But we are human and flawed, so sometimes our strong opinions conflict with our Christian beliefs. We struggle with all that Christ expects of us and there are moments when we fail. During those times, Christ will confront us in order to set us back on the path He hopes we will choose to follow. It may not necessarily be a Damascus Road experience (perhaps more of an Emmaus Road one – Luke 24:13-35), but it will change our lives and reshape our faith forever.
Point to ponder
Am I guilty of being religiously zealous instead of being faithfully Christ-like? Have I allowed my pride to cloud my compassion? Am I following Christ’s path or my own?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You know us as we truly are and see all that we do. Forgive us for being led astray by our strong opinions and zealous passion. Help us to filter our thoughts and decisions through Your truth, way, and life. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. Come and join us for worship on Sunday mornings at 11:00 AM. You will be made very welcome 😊
Today’s image is one of John’s Communion drawings called ‘Cup19.’ If you would like to view a larger version, click here: Cup19