In the story of Saul’s conversion to Christ (Acts 9:1-31), I see four areas of change that he experienced, and that we should experience if we have been converted and saved. If we are following the Jesus of the Bible, then we (and those around us) should be seeing in our own lives, the Spirit bringing about change in these four areas of our lives.
Change of Authority
Saul has transitioned from the authority of self, to the authority of Jesus. Saul was the one in charge before and no one would tell him otherwise. But in this moment along the Damascus Road, Jesus is completely authoritative. He is not saying, “Hey Saul, would you mind not hurting my people? You know if it doesn’t trouble you, could you change? I don’t want to cramp your style, but if it feels ok to you, if it feels right to you, can you change?”
Rather, He is completely authoritative. Saul’s life is under new management. For any Christ follower, that should be the sign that is on our lives. Under new management, under new ownership. Saul is no longer following himself here. He’s no longer calling the shots. Jesus, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the eternal Son of God, the one with all authority in Heaven and on Earth, has come into his life and is now the authority.
Sometimes when we hear the word, authority, we assume evil or wicked. Because for some of us, we project upon God, our past experiences with authority or the misuse of authority in culture, and we assume that God must be the same way. But our God is all together good and holy. That brilliant light that shook Saul to his knees is not diminished by sin or dim in anyway. So our God’s authority has our best interests in mind. His authority is so good that He’s saving and reconciling someone who had been attacking and murdering His own people.
- Where have you and are you experiencing a change of authority in your life as a Christ follower?
- In what ways are you growing in your trust in His loving authority?
Change of Direction
Saul has transitioned from a direction that is dictated by self, to a direction that is determined by a Savior. He had set out for Damascus for one goal: to persecute, arrest, and round up anyone who was part of the Way. Jesus met Him along the road, and his direction has now changed. He’s still going to Damascus, but the goal in going is now radically different.
When we come to faith in Christ, we repent and believe the Good News. ‘Believe’ meaning we place our faith and trust in Him. ‘Repent’ meaning we turn. Before faith in Christ, we were going in one direction, and when we repent, we agree with the Lord and commit to going in His direction, not our own.
The direction of our lives change. Before the direction was to live for and please us, and to make sure we were the center. Now, we no longer live for ourselves, but for the One who died and was raised. Because in the end, His ways lead to life, freedom, joy, delight, and rest.
- Where have you and are you experiencing a change of direction?
- Where are you growing in your trust in Him that as you walk by faith, He will lead you and direct your paths.
Change of Community
Saul has transitioned from a self-centered, independent-from-others-life, and he’s moving to community within the family of God, living interdependently and experiencing the one another’s of Scripture. If you read in chapter 9, you’ll see that the very disciples who Saul had come to arrest and drag off, are the ones who are welcoming him into their homes, sharing meals, and enjoying mutual fellowship.
I love how Ananias addresses him in verse 17, ‘Brother Saul’. Not enemy Saul, not murderer Saul, not persecutor Saul, because all of those refer to who Saul was. And not who he is now in Christ. Saul’s been made new. And now, he’s not an enemy to hold at arm’s length or hide from, he’s a brother to be embraced, welcomed, prayed for, supported, and loved.
You see in Acts 2 that the people who were repenting and believing the Good News, were then responding by living in community with one another following their salvation. They were no longer going to live for themselves, but live and love for the sake of the other. And we see Saul, and the disciples who welcomed him, following in that example.
- Where have you and are you experiencing a change of community in your life?
- Where are you choosing to live in the context of Biblical community, rejecting isolation, and agreeing with the Lord to live alongside fellow believers?
Change of Purpose
For Saul, it has moved from a purpose to please self through the persecution of Christians, to now moving to a purpose to reach the lost and those yet to be converted to Christ. And we’ll see Paul live with this purpose throughout the rest of the New Testament. As zealous as he was as a persecutor, he’ll be that much more zealous and passionate as a missionary.
For the person who claims to follow Jesus, the reality is, we become like Him not just in His character, but in His purpose. Jesus came to this earth as a missionary. He came to seek and save that which was lost. We follow in that same pattern. As one pastor said, ‘found people, find people.’ If we’ve experienced amazing grace, we want others to experience that as well.
You and I should be encouraged as missionaries as we read this account in Acts 9. Saul is the kind of person that no one expects to get converted and saved. He’s made a profession out of persecution and pride. And by God’s grace and power, it all changed in an instant. The Scriptures continually remind us that unlikely people can be and are converted. Our own testimony should remind of us that truth. That the ‘chief of sinners’, as Paul would describe himself later (and that we could describe ourselves as, as well), is able to be saved.
Your past doesn’t disqualify you from being converted to Christ, let alone, called into a greater purpose and mission in this world. In the end, God is the one glorified, not us, because it is His power at work in and through us. God’s grace is enough to save and God’s grace is enough to send us out.
- Where have you and are you experiencing a change of purpose and mission in your life?
- Who has the Lord providentially placed around you to be praying for and reaching as a missionary?
Converted hearts lead to changed lives.