Have you ever DVR’d a ball game, only to watch it the next day and find the experience of watching lost its “oomph” because twitter or Facebook or your best friend already offered you the outcome? Sometimes we lose out on the impact when we know in advance the end game. Keep that in mind while working through Acts 9 and try to imagine the moment, not in retrospect, but in real time.
Those were the first words from Ananias’s mouth to Saul. We could spend a lot of time talking about how hard those words must’ve been coming off Ananias’s lips, given he was speaking to a man who had most certainly murdered his friends or family.
But I also wonder, how must those words have sounded to Saul?
He’d devoted his life to terrorizing men like the one who now called him brother. The ultimate unworthy endearment. Is it possible the radical forgiveness contained in those two words served as the climax in melting the heart of a murderer and thus setting into motion one of the greatest redemption stories in the Bible?
Ananias offered himself as family to Saul out of obedience to a God who undeservedly had offered Ananias the same. When we know we’re not worthy of being a part of it; we’re more generous in welcoming others to the family.
In living and speaking redeemed, as Ananias did, we become vessels through which the Holy Spirit has the power to affect change. On the flip side, when we believe we can be redeemed and open our hearts to the painful extraction of pride and humble acceptance of grace, we also become God’s chosen. Redemption, as we see from Saul’s life, is not just for the sake of saving ourselves. We are saved to be sent. Redemption is our witness, our court case, our testimony to a world who needs to know God’s power is still at work today.
The reality is, we are both Ananias and Saul. We are agents of grace and also always in desperate need of it. But mostly, we are redeemed. When we embrace redemption, and when we extend redemption, the power of the Spirit is released in the humble places in our homes, the public areas in our cities, and most certainly the ripple works its way around our world.
Who are the people in our lives we’ve written off as “unchangeable”? Whether they be family, friends, co-workers or strangers, how can we show up for them as family?
Father, open our eyes to see as you see and make us willing to love those we least want to love.