One of my favorite aspects about being a Christian is living in community, being constantly surrounded by people who support me as a whole person – not necessarily because of my position, but because I am a fellow believer (I hope that’s what it is anyways …), and vice versa.
Going back to what being spilled salt means, being tossed willfully (or like some of us, perhaps un-willfully) outside of the salt shaker, with a point to make this world taste better – for the Glory of God. There is a part about this process that involves community and being with each other in every and any circumstance.
In this context, I want to look at a passage in the book of Acts, when Saul experiences his conversion. The full passage is Acts 9:1-19, I encourage you to actually look the passage up – and actually read it, in case you don’t, here’s what happens – in my own words.
Saul was one of those Pharisee type guys, who took pride in persecuting the followers of The Way. Saul heard about these things that were going on in Damascus, things that made the Pharisees cringe. He went to the high priest (ultimately his boss) asking if he could go there and imprison those who were these followers.
The high priest obviously allowed it, and Saul and his entourage went on their merry way.
I’m here reminded of a movie from 1993, Robin Hood: Men in Tights. They’re a group of merry men who wear tights and who steal from the rich and give to the poor (although not really Saul’s intentions). When one of the new merry men is being introduced to the group, the merry men break out into song about their tight tights. For some weird reason, this is how I initially pictured Saul and his entourage dancing in the streets on their way to Damascus (watch the clip to get the full picture of what I picture).
Moving along, here is where there is that blinding flash of light, you might know the one, where you are going about doing your own thing, and then BOOM!!!! You get thrown onto your backside, and a deep godly voice booms through your ears “why do you ignore me and do your own thing??”
Except Saul heard, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
It was Jesus speaking to Saul, calling him to be a follower and to go to the city and do what he is told to do.
Meanwhile, there is this other guy, a good follower of The Way, he was perhaps taking a snooze, and had a dream, where Jesus told him to go to this murderous guy who was coming to town, and to help him. Ananias thinks to himself – “what are you? NUTS?? This guy is coming to persecute us, forget it!” But the Lord has other plans (as he usually does), and tells Ananias to go anyways. Ananias obeys.
He finds Saul down the street, and prays over him, and Saul receives his sight back, and was then baptized. Saul then went on to great things as an apostle for the Kingdom of Heaven.
In reading this, in the context of living in community, two things stood out to me.
First, Ananias was in a space where he heard the voice of the Lord telling him what to do.
What does that space look like?
What does it take to get into and remain in that space?
If we are to be with those around us, how are we to know who those people are? How are we to know who God wants us to spend time with?
Ananias was a devoted follower of The Way, and spent time in daily prayer and devotion; he would have developed this connection with the Lord where he understood clearly the voice of God. He understood so much that the details were even specific.
You might now be thinking that this kind of thing only happened back then – but I can assure you – it happens all around us. I would go into more detail here, but this would simply get to long – email me (or comment below) if you’re interested to hear more.
The Lord will reveal to you in some way, who you are to spend time and connect with. This process starts with prayer. Your answer might not come as immediate, nor as specific, but it will come.
Second, Ananias was then willing to spend time with a guy who in his immediate history wanted to see guys like Ananias dead.
So who among us are we called to see, visit, heal, spend time with?
Jesus said: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick … for I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:12-13).
Zacchaeus was a tax collector . Jesus came to spend time with him.
The woman at the well was a prostitute . Jesus came to spend time with her.
Lazarus was a beggar . Jesus came to spend time with him.
Peter had little faith . Jesus came to spend time with him.
Mary sat at the feet of Jesus . Jesus came to spend time with her.
Saul was a murderer . Jesus came to spend time with him.
Who in your circles of friends and family struggles
-with being faithful?
-with having no friends?
-with having little to no direction?
These are those whom God has called us to (albeit an insufficient list).
Ananias was in tune enough with the Lord to hear whom he was called to minister to in his community, and once he had a name, he was at first hesitant, but the Lord clarified his intentions, and Ananias was obedient.
You might never know the full purpose of your conversations, or even the outcomes. But I hope that you can find trust in the Lord that the conversations and time you spend with others will not necessarily benefit yourself, but the Kingdom of Heaven.
May you hear the voice of the Lord directing you to those who need some Godly attention.
May you be able to gather the strength to act in this same obedience.