Text: Acts 9:1-31, Galatians 1:11-16, 2 Corinthians 3:12-13
Can you imagine if Paul had not done what God called him to do? If he’d had the show-stopping, life-altering moment on the road to Damascus and then went home and holed up, instead of spreading the gospel fervently to the nations? Paul’s miraculous conversion ordained by God would have gone no further than Paul. He himself would have been saved, but what about the countless others he would go on to meet, as well as those of us who read his words today?
Paul had excuses to shrink back and hide away. As soon as he was converted, his ministry was met with opposition. His former cohorts, the Jews, conspired to kill him (Acts 9:23), and his new tribe, Jesus’ disciples, were afraid of him (Acts 9:26).
My (recovering) people-pleasing heart and I would have had a hard time with this. Whenever I am taking the first shaky steps toward something God has called me to do, it is always the opinions of those closest to me that can make or break me. If they hesitate, or question, or pose all-out opposition, I begin to question what the Lord said. Wait, God, did you really want me to do this? Because so-and-so says this, and so-and-so thinks that…
We don’t see this type of hesitation in Paul. In fact, we see the opposite. Scripture says Paul immediately began preaching the name of Jesus in the synagogues (Acts 9:20), the very place he once condemned believers and the very place his old buddies hung around. We also read that he preached boldly (v. 28)—as opposed to me, who would have been afraid for my own life, fearfully whispering over and over again the words of what others thought of me.
If Paul were reading this today, he’d be quick to point out that it wasn’t Paul who made Paul bold. In his letter to the Galatians, he says, “I no longer live, but Christ in me” (Galatians 2:20). It wasn’t Paul’s boldness that set him apart; it was Christ in him who set Paul apart and promised to complete a mighty work in him (Philippians 1:6).
I love what Paul says about conversion in his first letter to the Thessalonians: “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with much assurance” (1:5). When we believe in Christ, it’s not just a cognitive shift. It’s a full-body, full-heart shift. We are changed completely, as we see in the complete 180 Jesus made in Paul’s heart.
This truth—that we have the power of the Holy Spirit—is a game-changer when it comes to taking those first shaky steps into ministry and into calling. For if we have the same Holy Spirit that Paul had, whose opinions do we have to fear? What opposition can make us crumble? What power can come against the power that lives inside of us?
Sure, we may not always have people cheering us on from the sidelines, but we will always have the Holy Spirit in us, giving us the strength and assurance we need to keep going.
Let’s Praise God for this today—for the grace of His Son, the power of His Spirit, and the promise to complete the good work He began in us, by no power of our own.