“…for he is my chosen instrument …”
The conversion of Saul (later named as Paul) is a monumental event in the life and history of the church. It has made a great impact on world history as the apostle has a dramatic turnaround from being a fierce persecutor of Christians in the early Church to a conversion experience without equal. So intent was Saul on destroying the Early Church that the only way for the Lord to get his attention was to confront him on the road to Damascus. The Church is later affected as persecution then subsides somewhat and there is a brief period of peace and growth (Acts 9:31). Imagine if Saul had not become a follower of Christ and he continued his murderous rampage unabated.
His old friends, the Jews were not at all pleased when he started to proclaim the message about Jesus with the same sort of passion he used to persecute Christians. They attempted to capture and kill Saul but he is able to escape their clutches with the aid of his disciples.
But a “Damascus Road Experience” has also passed into secular literature to denote a complete reversal of will in a general sense, without the spiritual connotation. I wouldn’t be surprised if some authors now use the expression with little or no understanding the origin of the phrase. What is understood is that it means a complete reversal. It is assumed that everyone knows the context. That will change with time of course as secular society continues to drift away from even a fundamental biblical knowledge. The saying will become meaningless outside of a Christian context.
Many of us have come to faith in Christ in a much less dramatic way. That doesn’t mean that our conversion is any less genuine or sincere. Some, like me, have had some slow transformations, also some quick ones. We are not all the same, thankfully. The important thing is that we are responding to Jesus’ call, we know we are followers of Jesus and are trying to live by “deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Jesus”. Like Saul, we have been chosen to be Christ’s messengers to the world. We are the only means by which the Gospel can be proclaimed through our words and actions.
Let us persevere in our efforts to live as light and salt in our community. Pray that the Lord will lead us to those who are ready to hear and respond to the message of Mercy and Grace. Come Holy Spirit, fill us anew!