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04.08.18 Double Vision Acts 9.1-19 Sermon Summary

by on April 16, 2018

Note: this sermon was delivered in first person as Ananias.

It’s amazing how you come to see things differently. My name is Ananias and I live in Damascus. I’m a devout man, and well-respected among the religious people of my city.

I had heard about Saul. He also was a devout man, a Pharisee actually. They were experts at giving instructions on how to live so as to never jeopardize breaking the law. Saul was not a follower of the Way, as I was. In fact, he was a persecutor of it.

It’s been a few years since the resurrection of Jesus. Saul was trying to stamp out the movement that exploded around Jesus of Nazareth, “the way.” Saul oversaw the stoning of first martyr Stephen. After that event, the faith community in Damascus swelled. Lots of those followers of the Way came to Damascus in the persecution.

Now Saul had papers from Jerusalem, from the religious higher ups there, to extend the hunt to us up in Damascus. That’s what I heard, and that’s how I saw things. But then I had a double vision.

The Lord came to me and said my name: “Ananias.” Like he said Mary’s name in the garden on the morning of the resurrection. Like he said Mary’s name in the very beginning at the Annunciation.

“Ananias,” God said. You know my name means “favored one,” just like Mary . . . I thought of her, and of Abraham, and of Samuel. So I said what they said: “Here I am.” Be careful when you say that.

“Go to the house of Judas,” God said. This was not a good start to a vision. But it got worse. “Look for Saul,” he said. “He’s praying in a vision.” Yeah, I thought, a vision of rounding up Christians in Damascus!

“You go and lay hands on him to regain his sight.” Regain his sight?! Apparently Saul was also having a double vision. At first he saw Jesus as a threat. Then he had a vision of the resurrected and glorified Jesus and now believed he was chosen to proclaim Jesus as Messiah!

Anyway, back to my double vision. I saw Saul as the destroyer of the church but after this, I now learned he was to be the builder of the church. I didn’t want to see that. I mean I did want the church built, but not through Saul!

It’s hard to recognize good things done by someone you don’t like. It’s hard to believe in the repentance of bad people. So I argued. “This Saul causes great suffering,” I reminded God. And then I had another double vision! God said, “Now he will suffer greatly on my account.”

Part of me liked that. But part of me began to feel compassion also.

That’s how we come to embrace the double vision, through compassion. All of us can grow. All of us can change. None of us is the vision God has of us. But we can be, if we’re open to the double vision. The way we become open to this change in our own lives comes by being open to the change in others.

Later, when I was talking to Saul, who is also called Paul, he said his eyes were open on the road to Damascus but that he couldn’t see. He had to be led for a time. His sight was closed but his heart was open. That’s compassion! It’s a work of grace. God’s grace at work in a life to see more that what’s there, to see change.

God can do this because God sees more. God sees all. God has double vision. God sees a Messiah in a crucified criminal. God sees an evangelist in a persecutor. God sees enlightenment in darkness. God sees redemption in suffering.

What does God see in you? In me, God saw a favored one in a skeptic. God opened my heart and made me compassionate.

I went to Saul. I called him “brother.” I laid hands on him and prayed. His sight was restored. He was baptized, was fed, and his new vision became a reality.

What does God see in you? How will God’s grace grow compassion in your life—for others, and for yourself? How will God use you?

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2 Comments
  1. Susan Hartley permalink

    Great message. It is hard to see God st work in people I do not like. Takes an annunciation moment to get past roadblocks…

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. 04.29.18 Acts 17.1-9 Remembering Who’s King Sermon Summary | Thinking Faith

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