An Illusion of Authority

What a mess this election season is! Although, I vaguely remember saying the same thing last election season. And probably the one before that. This post will not be a partisan one, so if you’ve come here and plan to debate parties or even issues, you might as well go ahead and keep scrolling to another post.

What we can all agree on, however, is that there seems to be a pervasive sense of unrest and fear regardless of which candidate you’re afraid of winning the election. Unrest over the potential fallout of either decision. Fear of one candidate or both stepping into such a position of power and authority.

With that in mind, I recently came across the story in Scripture of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus to the Apostle Paul. I was struck as I read the story by one thing. Well, one character, actually.

Ananias.

Not the guy we usually pay attention to in the story of Saul/Paul. When I’ve read this story in the past I’ve marveled over several things.

I’ve marveled over the fact that God was able to use someone as evil and as lost as Saul to be one of His greatest teachers and missionaries ever. If God can use Saul, there’s hope He could use even me, right?

I’ve marveled over the fact that God met Saul right where He was in a dramatic way, and that in a moment He changed the entire trajectory of this man’s life.

But as I read it recently, I marveled over the call God gave to Ananias.

Acts 9:10-19
10
Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” 15But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19and taking food, he was strengthened.

A call to trust His sovereignty.

A call to trust His goodness.

A call to trust that His ways are not our ways but that they are always best.

Saul would not have been my fist choice to be a “chosen instrument” of God’s to carry out His name. I doubt he was Ananias’ first choice either.

Because Saul was scary.

Saul had power.

Saul had authority from Rome to persecute and kill all those who followed Christ.

But it was all just an illusion. In the moment God deemed right, He reached down and reminded Saul to whom authority ultimately belonged. Himself.

It wasn’t the first time in Scripture that God sent this “gentle” reminder either. In fact, I could never cover all of the examples in this blog, but there is one I feel like is worth mentioning. And that’s because I think if we only look at Saul/Paul we are in danger of thinking that God is only able to use people who are fully surrendered to Him and love Him with all of their heart.

The truth is, God does as He pleases and His will cannot be thwarted. Not by kings, not by criminals, not by terrorists, not by a president, and not by a congress.

King Cyrus was the King of Persia from 539-530 BC. He was a pagan king. He did not trust in the One True God. And yet, he was the subject of Old Testament prophecy both proclaimed and fulfilled.

 

 

Isaiah 44:28
28who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd,
and he shall fulfill all my purpose’;
saying of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be built,’
and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’”

2 Chronicles 36:22-23
22
Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, theLORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: 23“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the LORDhis God be with him. Let him go up.’”

Proverbs 21:1
1The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD;
he turns it wherever he will.

As believers, we have an opportunity during this election season, as we do always. And that opportunity is to make known the name of the Lord. To be His disciples and spread His fame in our immediate sphere of influence and to the ends of the earth.

I’m not convinced that will ever be accomplished by arguing politics on facebook or defending a particular candidate over another in the public arena. I do believe we have a responsibility to vote, and to vote according to how we believe the Lord is leading us. That is, if we are actively seeking the Lord on the matter and not allowing the media to do our shepherding.

What I am convinced of is that God’s purposes will be accomplished and I can trust him with my vote, and in spite of my vote (meaning, even if I get it wrong).

The opportunity we have during this election season is to proclaim boldly the hope that we have. Not in a presidential candidate or a campaign. Not in the running mate or the potential congress our chosen candidate might appoint. We get to proclaim the hope we have in the God of the universe who has never left His throne and is not about to in November. We get to proclaim the hope we have in the King of kings and Lord of lords!

In response to the promised persecution believers will experience as a result of their profession of Christ, 1 Peter 3: 15 says, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy always being prepared to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and respect.”

There are several caveats to that Scripture, but the one I’d like to leave you with is this.

People must actually see the hope that is in us to have a reason to ask us about source of it.

God is on His throne, and we have nothing to dread if we are His people, and walking in His ways.

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD-he turns it wherever he will.

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