April 25, 2022
“After I had returned to Jerusalem, it happened that as I was praying in the Temple, I went into a trance, and I saw Jesus ‘Hurry!’ he said to me, ‘Get out of Jerusalem immediately...’”
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“After I had returned to Jerusalem, it happened that as I was praying in the Temple, I went into a trance, and I saw Jesus ‘Hurry!’ he said to me, ‘Get out of Jerusalem immediately, because they will not accept what you have to say about me.’ I said, ‘Lord, they know themselves that in every synagogue I used to imprison and flog those who trusted in You; also that when the blood of Your witness Stephen was being shed, I was standing there too, in full agreement; I was even looking after the clothes of the ones who were killing him!’ But He said, ‘Get going! For I am sending you far away – to the Gentiles.” Acts 22:17-21
I was in college when I began following Jesus. I was also a member of a Greek fraternity on campus. Shortly after my salvation, I began sharing the gospel with members of my fraternity. I was zealous and aggressive, which made me obnoxious to everyone! I truly believed my friends would consider my new life compared to my former “worldly” life, and they would convert based on my transformation.
As it turned out, my friends weren’t interested in my gospel presentation. Word of my conversion spread, and I eventually found myself the outsider in our “fraternal” social circle. I had always been in the center of that scene…now, an outsider. I could not understand why they rejected my testimony about Jesus.
I began thinking about where things went wrong with my evangelism techniques. In the words of John Mayer, “Maybe, it’s got nothing to do with me...” Perhaps, my friends simply didn’t want to be confronted with the truth about Jesus, no matter who delivered it.
After that experience, I couldn’t imagine leading anyone to Jesus! But God had a different plan.
As with the Apostle Paul, the Lord had me leave my “Jerusalem.” That is, I left college (along with my initial evangelistic experiences) behind. But those early “seeds” of the gospel did not all go to waste. Over the years, several of my old fraternity brothers have shared how my testimony played a distinct and eventual role in their salvation.
It is good to be zealous, but zealousness without submission to God’s authority and the Spirit’s direction leads to trouble. When we place zeal under submission, the Bible calls that “meekness.” A horse becomes useful to the rider when made meek to the bridle. Likewise, we become useful to God when we submit to His plan for us. Paul surrendered to God’s plan, and just look how the Lord used him! The Lord wants to do mighty things through you, as well. Are you ready to follow His will and His leading?
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