I’ve been hanging out in the Early Church with the Apostles this month. No, but really. I have not learned time travel, but in spending time the book of Acts I’m learning about these brave, bold men and women who were followers of The Way before Christianity was officially Christianity. Each person fits into the story in a special way, as if the story depends on him or her to play his or her role. And the dependence on the Holy Spirit is undeniable; I want to live more like the Early Church, open to the true power of the Risen Christ in my life, Him living in me and through me.
I usually camp out in the Pauline Epistles with Paul. I love me some Paul. Freedom, grace, love – these are a few of my favorite things. But right now, I’m captivated by Ananias. It’s Ananias who speaks to Saul, after Saul has encountered Christ, and Ananias says, “Brother Saul, the Lord – Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here – has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:17). This, seemingly small moment, is a bold act of obedience for Ananias; no one really knew if Saul could be trusted, or if the Holy Spirit was going to soften Saul’s heart. Saul could have ordered Ananias to be put to death, or even acted indifferent towards the words Ananias spoke. And yet, this act of obedience for Ananias changes history.
We don’t know much else about Ananias, but we do have lots of additional information about Saul, our friend Paul who, led by the Holy Spirit, authored about half of the New Testament. I’m blown away by Ananias though. His obedience means so much in light of we get to know on this side of history. Yes, in the vision, Ananias is told that Paul is going to be God’s “chosen instrument”, so he has some idea of what could happen, but God tells and Ananias obeys.
God uses this ordinary act of obedience to produce extraordinary results.
Not all acts of obedience are made equal. Sometimes it takes years or generations to see the fruit. Sometimes something that seems big doesn’t take a lot of thought or second-guessing. Sometimes obeying is the last thing we want to do. But we obey. After reading and thinking on Ananias’ radical obedience and the boldness of the Early Church, I want to obey better, in the small stuff and the big stuff. I want to live knowing that has created a special role for me in the building of His Kingdom, but I need to say yes, to be able to step into it. It may be a baby step, a seemingly unimportant conversation, or huge leap of faith, but as Ananias demonstrates, obedience leads to something extraordinary.