A Story About Finding Faith
Thirteen-year-old Saul sat with the men in the synagogue for the first time, eagerly waiting to be called forward to read a portion from the Torah. When the time came, he confidently strode forward and spoke out loudly and clearly in the Hebrew language so that all could hear. In particular he wanted to impress his father not only a leading man in the Jewish community, but a Tarsus businessman with all the dignity and freedom of a Roman citizen.
The family might live in a Greek-speaking city and conduct their tent-making business among Greek-speaking people, but in here, in the synagogue, they spoke Hebrew. Saul, or Paul to his Greek-speaking friends, could quote from the writings of Greek poets and philosophers, but it was his Hebrew heritage that gave him his strongest sense of identity.
His father said that he could trace his lineage right back to Benjamin, a favoured son of the great ancestor, Jacob. When barely eight days old, the little boy’s penis has been circumcised, and he had been taught throughout his boyhood that this was a sign that he, and all others like him, belonged specially to God.
There was so much promise in this young lad, eager to learn as much as he could about the faith of his people, that the family re-located from to Jerusalem so that he could study under Gamaliel, the most famous Rabbi of his day. Here he distinguished himself by his learning and enthusiasm.
When followers of Jesus started to be brought before the Council, he enthusiastically cast his vote against them. He nodded his approval at the stoning of Stephen, a young leader of the new movement. And he, with a squad of heavies to help him, went house to house rounding up Christians. Men, women, it made no difference to him—all were rounded up and thrown into prison. He was determined to stamp out this heresy.
He even went to the High Priest to get authorization for an extension of this campaign to the city of Damascus. He was on his way to that city, with a group of men, intent on purging the synagogues of all who had become followers of that they called The Way, when out of the blue he sensed that he was surrounded by the presence of God and he heard, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He sensed that it was the Lord, but he cried out, “Who are you, Lord?” To which the reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”
On further instruction, he got up from the ground where he had collapsed and told his men to lead him on into Damascus. He had to be led because he had been seized by a temporary blindness. In Damascus, he met up with a Christian disciple named Ananias who welcomed him and introduced him to the little group of Christians who baptized him then and there.
Something to Think and Talk About
That’s Paul’s story. What’s your’s? Think about the following. If you are in a group, discuss these things together.
- Which passage from Acts chapter 9 best describes your faith at the present time:
(a) “Breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord”(b) “Suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him”(c) “He could see nothing, so they led him by the hand.”(d) ‘He answered, “Here I am Lord.” ’
- It might be said that Paul not so much came to faith as faith came to him. What do you think about that? How does that measure up against your own experience?
Read Matthew 16:21-28
- What does this passage say about coming to faith?
Share your own finding-faith stories.
- If you are willing, share your experience in one of these:
(1) your own coming to faith,(2) obstacles to coming to faith,(3) renewal in faith,(4) deepening of your faith.
for brushing aside your grace and love,
for trying to work out our own salvation,
and for all our failures in faith and trust.
Give us faith
to love you and to worship you,
to serve you and to obey you,
to trust you through all of life.
I put my faith in you, O God. In you I find salvation.
Enable me to live by faith. In faith, I dare to live.