Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Nobody and Somebody

            “In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias.” Those words in Acts 9 begin the story of the most important Nobody in the New Testament.
            Now, Saul—later known by his Roman name, Paul—was Somebody. Obsessed with destroying the newborn church, he headed for Damascus to arrest and drag Christians to Jerusalem to face the Sanhedrin. Jesus—already crucified, risen, and ascended—confronted Saul on the highway, taking his sight and giving him much to ponder.
            Enter a disciple named Ananias. (Don’t confuse him with the other Ananias, Sapphira’s husband. Those two clowns died a few chapters earlier. Sorry to give clowns a bad name.)
Jesus spoke to this second Ananias. “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street. Restore the sight of Saul of Tarsus.”
            “Whoa, Lord! You mean Saul, the Christian-killer? The maniac who came to arrest us?”
            “Yep, that’s the one. I have big plans for him. Now, go!”
            Three history-changing words follow:  “Then Ananias went…” 
He delivered Jesus’ message, restored Saul’s vision, baptized him with the Holy Spirit and water…and, like a dutiful minor character, gracefully exited the drama.
            Saul—now using his Roman name, Paul—launched the life-altering good news of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ throughout the Roman Empire. He organized the new believers into congregations. He stayed from a few weeks to a few years in different cities, teaching. He also authored thirteen letters which are included in the New Testament.
Next to Jesus, Paul remains the most influential figure in Christian history.
            Ananias who? He was the obedient Nobody who launched Paul.
            The faculty of Watsontown Christian Academy began our in-service week last month by watching the DVD curriculum, Passing the Baton, by Jeff Myers. It was a lot to process in two days, so now I’m slowly moving through the accompanying book and workbook. It’s a serious and sometimes frightening responsibility to be in a position to influence the next generation.
It makes me say, “Oh my God,” and mean it.
            I’ve been passing the baton, consciously or unconsciously, for a few years now, and I already see some former students running with it, while others managed to escape my classroom impervious to my influence…so far. Only God knows how the race will end.
            Whether God assigns me to be a Nobody or a Somebody, I want to run faithfully. The baton that started with Ananias and Paul is in my hands.
I have to pass it on.

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