The Apostle Paul was a member of the Pharisee faction. There is some confusion about his name, because in the beginning he’s often called Saul and then later it’s Paul. This is because of the different ways his name was said in different languages.
When the followers of Jesus began preaching of a new religion, he was filled with righteous anger. He was the one that guarded the clothing of those stoning Stephen. He arrested and jailed many of the followers, and when he felt he’d done enough in Jerusalem, he asked to be sent to Damascus. He was given letters and went off to do the same in that city.
On the road, he was dazzled by a bright light. He heard a voice speaking, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
Paul asked “Who are you?”
The answer was, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”
Jesus went on to tell him to go to a certain house and to await further instructions. He was blinded by this encounter, and had to be lead to the house indicated. He fasted and prayed for three days. At the end of this time, a follower of Jesus came. He laid hands on Saul and something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes. Some Bibles start using “Paul” after this, but it was not a true renaming.
The reason I am telling this story is because I think all of us spend some time on the road to Damascus from time to time. We get separated from our faith or we get sidelined by an issue in the church. We lose sight of Jesus, and what we are supposed to be.
God can choose to put us aright in a dramatic sense, but it’s better if we don’t wait for that. What we need to do is take our faith out and look at it once in a while. What are we doing that says we are Christians? Here are a few tips:
Have you read the Bible lately? Staying centered in God’s word is one way to help us stay off the road to Damascus. Each time we read it, something new pops out, and it can help us.
Have you talked to God and listened for an answer? A lot of times, we ask God for something and then expect it to happen. God isn’t a vending machine. He is our Father, and when we ask Him for something or to do something, sometimes the answer is “no.” At other times, it’s “wait.” We need to listen for His answer.
Have you done anything? Faith, without works it is quite dead. I don’t mean did you pass the potato salad when someone asked for it. I mean have you gone out and done something for others in needed…without bragging about it? What we do is an expression of our faith, and goes hand in hand with it.
These three steps can help us figure out if we are on the road to Damascus or the highway to heaven. Where are you?