Day 159: Ignorance is not a Barrier to Usefulness

Acts 9:19-22 (AD 34)

“Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.

A teenaged Christian was doing door to door evangelism with a pastor in a deprived area in northern England, thirty years ago. The first few doors they knocked on, the pastor said, ‘I’ll take the lead, feel free to contribute to the conversation wherever and whenever you like. The youngster was happy with that and after a few doors with varying degrees of rejection, was happy to not be the guy getting rejected.

After a while the pastor turned to him and said, ‘Now it’s your turn’. The young man went to the door, rang the doorbell, and a middle-aged man opened the door.

Silence.

There then followed a period of inarticulate mumbling and exchanged pleasantries. The resident expressed no interest, and the episode was mercifully ended by the closing of the door. The pastor took over again after that.

The following Sunday in church, who should be there but the guy who had been mumbled at. The two Christians were bewildered – they hadn’t had a proper conversation and the guy clearly wasn’t interested.

‘What made you decide to come? the pastor asked him.

‘Because, he replied, ‘your friend was obviously so uncomfortable trying to have the conversation, but clearly wanted to talk to me about this Jesus, I figured if it meant that much to him to go through all that awkwardness and discomfort to talk to me, it might be something I should check out.

Some time later, after checking things out and continuing to attend that church, he became a Christian.

The Paul who went witnessing in Damascus didn’t know much about Jesus. He was staggeringly learned in the minutiae of the Jewish law, but he understood very little about the gospel. We know this, in part, because at that point he was about to enter a three-year period of learning in the desert that would prepare him for his life as an evangelist.

But what Paul did know, even as someone who had literally just become a Christian, was more than enough to be able to tell people about Jesus. More than enough to prove to them from the Old Testament that ‘Jesus is the Messiah’ (v.22).

You’re most likely not called to stand at the front of a synagogue and tell Jews that Jesus is God, like Paul did. But you are called to tell the people you know, what you know, about Jesus. And if you are a Christian, then you already know all that is necessary. You might want help from a more knowledgeable Christian when you get asked tough questions, but none of us are called to know all the answers. We’re called to tell people that we are all lost without God, and that because of Jesus life, death and resurrection, and through faith and repentance, we can receive forgiveness and become reconciled with God.

And, no matter how bad we are at doing it, God can use your willingness and desire to touch people’s lives, as I was blessed to experience as a teenager in the north of England when I did some door-to-door work with a local pastor.


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