As he was approaching Damascus on the mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?"
"Who are you, lord?" Saul asked. And the voice replied, "I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."
[After these events] The church had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers. ~ Acts 9:1-2; 31
Under duress, the Church that Christ was building left the building--the Temple. Saul of Tarsus, on the heels of the martyrdom of Stephen and unsatisfied with the bloodletting of a single saint, stayed hot on the heels of the fleeing Christ-followers, dead set on dragging them back to Jerusalem in shackles. Driven by an unholy hatred, Saul's lynch mob, with the written blessings of the high priest, left no stone unturned and no safe place for the harassed refugees of the Way.
Then Saul of Tarsus, the hunter, became the hunted. From his seat at the right hand of the Father, Christ ran him down and knocked him down--confronted him and converted him. The persecutor of the the Way became a preacher of the Way!
At last... the harried and harassed Church was at peace.
What now? Would the neophyte followers shift into neutral? Would the Great Commission of Christ be de-commissioned? Would they relax, and get lax? Would they move on to higher ground or just hold their ground?
What lessons does this moment in the lives of the first believers hold for the lives of present day believers like us? How do we respond to "peace?"
That's what I will be talking about at 11 a.m., next Sunday at First Baptist Church in Phenix City, Alabama….