A powerful paradigm shift
“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
- Acts 9:13-16
Ananias needed a paradigm shift before he would reach out to Saul. When Ananias looked as Saul, he saw nothing more than a threat to his safety. He applied labels. He made assumptions.
And if Ananias had met Saul apart from the Lord’s intervention in Saul’s life, Ananias would have been wise to exercise caution. Saul was dangerous … dangerous to the people and dangerous to the movement that Jesus has started.
When Ananias pushed back against the Lord (something that merits attention), the Lord didn’t stomp on or ridicule the resistance. The Lord didn’t trumpet Saul’s character or skill set. The Lord didn’t beat Ananias over the head with that inclusivity value, heaping shame or embarrassment on the man.
Instead, the Lord communicated three things to Ananias.
1) My mission will not be stopped
Ananias expresses concern that Saul has been destroying the community of Jesus-followers in Jerusalem and that he’ll extend that violence to Damascus. The name of the Lord matters to Ananias, as do those who call on it. And the Lord clearly communicates that Saul will go from being a persecutor of the name to being a proclaimer of the name.
2) My involvement will not wane
Ananias expresses a sharp awareness of Saul’s involvement in the chaos in Jerusalem. The Lord counters that the Lord himself is at work calming the chaos in Saul. The Lord actively offers Saul both election and revelation in this season of conversion.
3) My mercy will not be cheap
Perhaps Ananias felt concern that Saul would get off the hook too easily. Saul caused too much suffering for Ananias to just shrug it away. Punishment (or at least some form of consequence) would seem appropriate. And while Saul wouldn’t face punishment for his sins (Jesus paid it all), Saul would suffer and suffer willingly for the all-surpassing joy of knowing Jesus. The Lord will take everything Saul has.
Ananias needed to see differently before he could do differently. Where do you feel like you need God to shift your paradigm today? Where does your calling not make sense? Where do you need more clarity?