In the context of that sermon, I offered you a task this week: to share your doubts in faith with someone that you know may be struggling with doubt as well. Perhaps it is a friend who has gone through a job loss and is doubting how God could be involved in her life with such bad fortune. Or maybe it is a family member recently given a health diagnosis who is facing questions of afterlife and doubting if heaven could exist as they are faced with its inevitability in the near future. Or maybe it is someone who has been so turned off by religion that they are skeptical of anyone who is trying to "convince them" to go to church. I posed the possibility that sharing your doubts could be a conversation starter.
But I realize that places all of us in an awkward and uncomfortable position. It forces us out of our stability and into situations where we are made vulnerable and could be rejected. Maybe even be laughed at. So why bother, if we are not guaranteed success in this venture into this scary territory of sharing our faith?
This Sunday's passage tells us: because that is how the gospel grows. Taking risks and going out of our way into uncomfortable situations and places is how the Jesus' message expands. Listen to the passage of Ananias' calling. The Lord sends Ananias a vision to go to the house of Judas, where a man named Saul has also received a vision from the Lord, because he has been struck blind for three days. There is only one problem with this mission, Saul kills the followers of "The Way" of Jesus. (You can almost hear the story come to a screeching halt here). Ananias thinks: Um, Lord, are you sure you have sent me to the right house? Maybe it wasn't Saul you meant me to go visit, maybe it was his next door neighbor?
No, the Lord is sure it is Saul that he wants. Um, Lord, have you heard how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem, and how he has authority to bind anyone who says your name? Yes, the Lord knows and tells Ananias anyway: "Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel."
Now, there isn't much in the story that talks about that walk from Ananias' house to where Saul is staying. But I wonder if Ananias walked pretty slowly, maybe hoping the Lord would give him a new vision, to turn around. Maybe he prayed the whole way for protection and strength. Or maybe he stalled and spent a few hours tidying up his house before the set out on the journey.
We likely would have done the same, because going to share about God's love in a situation like that is terrifying.
And yet, it was that testimony of Ananias that provided the impetus for the church that we have today. Without Ananias' courage in sharing the good news, the growth of Christianity would have looked a lot different.
So it's a good lesson for us all to remember: God's power can reveal possibilities through relationships, we can never imagine. We are not ones to determine what God can do with a changed heart.
I look forward to seeing you Sunday,