There was a cosmetic advertising phrase, "The transformation of a woman is innocent." Change that makes people feel good will be not guilty.
People change. People change over time. Depend on the place where people live and the people who they meet, people change. As time passes by, people's faces change because of a wrinkle on the face as a sign of years. But as you get older, some may have a peaceful face, but some don’t, which may be related to what people have thought and how they have live for their life time long.
The change of person may surprise others. Depending on people, the reaction will be different. The story of Saul is a good example. Saul, who persecuted Jesus' believers, turned into the believer. In response to the change of Saul, the disciples responded with a joyful surprise. But Jews in Damascus were embarrassed. This will be true for us. People will respond to our change in various ways. Some will express a joyful surprise, but others will be embarrassed. But the important thing is the reaction of people who you like and trust.
Actually, many people want to change. Some people want to improve their outward appearance. I hope that our change will be the direction in which we grow and mature in spirit. It should be good if we may abandon bad habits. Of course, our changes may be degeneracy and corruption. Some one used to say like this. 'Now you are laughing at me, but in the next ten years I will be a wonderful person.' I hope we all become wonderful people. This kind of change will be good.
A person's life depends on meeting with people: parents, teachers, friends, and a spouse. Especially, meeting with God should greatly influence the life of each one of us. Meeting with parents will be not determined by us. Meeting with others means a relationship. The quality of our lives depends on the relationship with others and God.
There are some meetings we have chosen, but some meetings we have not chosen. Meeting with parents is not an option. Meeting with family is inevitable. However, meeting of a spouse and a friend can be decided by our choice. Therefore, it is important to have a good relationship with others; it is also important to make good friends. The most important meeting is the meeting with God.
2. The event that changed Saul's life
It is a record of what happened after the incident that changed Saul's life today. Saul met Jesus. There was no way to explain the fact that the man who persecuted Jesus hardly changed to be the one who preached that Jesus is the Son of God. His change was not because he read the Bible a lot and studied theology a lot. His change began with a meeting with God. Of course, the meeting with God has changed the direction of his life. His attitude was changed. Saul’s story explains well why we must meet the Lord. The priority of Saul's life has been changed. His values of seeing the world had been changed: The only answer that could explain these changes in Saul is that he met the Lord.
Saul might be recorded as a man who killed and persecuted Jesus. By meeting Jesus, he became a preacher of Jesus. He declared that Jesus is the Son of God. He recognized what was important in his life. He recognized the Lord's love and His plan for him. He learned the grace and love of the Lord in his life. These all happened to him after he met the Lord.
After meeting with the Lord, the world that Saul experienced was quite different from the past. He lived new and dynamically. He became a powerful man and also led many people to God. Even though he have suffered, he could sing a song. He was a thankful person. He was satisfied in any situation. In prison, he enjoyed freedom rather than others. Why were these possible? Because Saul, who was going to Damascus, had met the Lord. This incident has changed his life. His transformation is innocent. This will be true for us as well! This will a joyful change that happens to those who have met God. I hope that the change will also happen to you. Saul confirms his change through baptism. Baptism is the act of public confession that "I believe in Jesus Christ”.
As you look at the changes of Saul, I wish you have the same hope. The person who met the Lord is different from the one who does not. This difference will lead you to a different life. This kind of change will be joyful and meaningful because we will share the gospel with others. Through our life, God blesses many people. I hope that such change will happen to us. That is the reason why we must meet the Lord in person.
3. More examples
As an example, we have looked at Saul. You can find more examples in the Bible. The Bible contains the stories of people who met God. It tells the stories of God who is unchangeable, faithful, and love, and people who have met with God. What kind of life did the people who met God live?
I would like to introduce some people from the New Testament.
- There is a person named Zacchaeus. He heard a news that Jesus would be passing by. He could not see Jesus because he was a short man in the crowd (Luke 19: 1-8). So he climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see Jesus. Surprisingly, the Lord came to Zacchaeus and met him. How did Zacchaeus react? When Jesus called him, he hurried down from the tree and rejoiced, invited Jesus and his disciples to his home. He said to Jesus: "Lord. I will give half of my possessions to the poor, and if there is anything I have deceived someone, I will repay fourfold. A long wish of "Zacchaeus' would be rich. Now, he confessed that he would give away the wealth he loved and live honestly. No one asked him, but he wished. This is the reaction of people who met the Lord. If you meet the Lord, your life will change. You will confess that you become a new creation. You will say that you are saved from the sin. Thus, it is so important to meet the Lord personally. We should long for the presence of the Lord. I hope that you all will meet with the Lord. Meeting with the Lord allows us to do what we cannot do. It makes us able to do what our nature cannot do. The meeting of the Lord is important. People who see you will be surprised because they heard that you become a new person.
- There was a woman who lived in Samaria. This woman had five husbands. She didn’t want to meet others. So she got some water in the well in a daytime when nobody was there. But she has changed because she met Jesus. Through the short conversation with Jesus, she recognized him as Christ. She was joyful and peaceful. She became a preacher of the Lord. Her life was changed after she met Jesus Christ. It is important to have experience of the meeting with the Lord and experience of the Lord’s presence
The Old Testament records the life of those who have met God.
- Abraham is an example. He was an idol worshiper. But he was rich and lived well with his wife although he didn’t have any child so far. He changed his life style when he became 75 years old. He abandoned his idols and began to serve God who made heaven and earth. This change of Abraham was not determined by himself, nor because he wanted to have self-development or a successful life. His change might be dangerous or it might be the beginning of a hardship. Why did he make such a decision? Because he met God. His change could not be explained without God. The meeting with God moved him and made important decisions in his life. He has dreamed about his descendants. He dreamed about the people. He lived in anticipation of what God would accomplish through Him. Through Abraham who met God, God gave him a vision and let him know what God wants. Through the meeting of God, Abraham became a channel for sharing the blessing of the Lord to many people. Through his offspring, Jesus, mankind was saved from the sin.
- So is the life of Jacob, son of Isaac. Jacob was born in a family of God. Nowadays, we can say that he is born in a Christian family. But he seemed not to mature. He deceived his brother and his father. He also used God’s name when he lied to his father.
When Isaac was too old to see, he demanded his son, Esau, which he would hunt and cook delicious food. He wanted to bless his eldest son. Then Jacob went to Isaac as if he were Esau. Isaac asked his son to come back after finishing the hunt earlier than expected. 'Is it really you?' Then Jacob said. '... For the LORD, the God of my father, gave me success (Genesis 27:20).' Jacob lied without any hesitation when he said the name of God. He knew God in a knowledgeable way, but he didn’t know who God was.
There was a time when Jacob's life began to change. It happened when he ran away because his brother, Esau, tried to kill him. At that time, he dreamed when he slept. In that dream he heard the voice of God. "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. (Gene. 28:13, 14)'
The place where Jacob's transformation was called it Bethel, and worshiped God. Previously, Jacob might have worshiped God with his father Isaac. But after he met God, the worship offered at Bethel should be different. Thus, it is important to meet God in our lives. What we need to have a willing is the presence of the Lord. The life of Jacob who experienced the presence of the Lord was quite different from the past.
- Moses was one of the best learned scholars in the palace of Egypt and had grown his dream as a leader until he was 40 years old. But his education and background did not seem to change him. And what he got was only the title of a murderer who killed the soldiers of Egypt, trying to save the nation of Israel by his own strength. And he had to live forty years in the Midian wilderness. When Moses turned to be 80 years old, God appeared to Moses in a fire that did not burn wood. And after this, the life of Moses was changed dramatically. God was with Him and gave Him power, and also the glory of a great leader who led the people of Israel out of Egypt. The change in Moses' life was began by the calling of the Lord, by meeting God in person.
This is what we should be looking for. It is the meeting with the Lord. We need to expect the Lord to come here. Just as Saul, who was going to Damascus, had met Jesus, I hope you will also meet Jesus. I wish there will be such a case that the purpose of our life will be changed too. I hope that our life experiences the change because we meet Jesus who come here as the light.
I hope that you and I have a testimony. People who heard the news will be surprised. And we will praise God. The Lord comes to those who eagerly seek. The Lord is personal. The Lord is faithful. The Lord is the one who keeps His promises. Please look forward to meeting with the Lord. I hope you will.
Lord! Please meet us also. Lord! Please come to us! Lord, we also want to have the thrill of meeting you. Our thoughts and values, the perspective we have will be changed to the way the Lord has given us.
The experience of meeting the Lord is very important. That is why we must meet the Lord. You will meet the Lord in dream like Jacob, and meet Him in vision like Paul. Some people meet the Lord in prayer. Some may see the Lord in nature. Some may meet the Lord when they call the name of the Lord. Some may meet the Lord during the Sunday service. Let’s meet God who is working within us. It is more precious than any knowledge of the world. Meeting with God is the most important in our lives. I hope that it will be our confession that God lives with us in our life.
I pray that we may have the same feeling that Saul had in Damascus. I hope that our life before and after meeting the Lord will be like Saul, like Zacchaeus, and like a Samaritan woman. What we need to do is to meet with the Lord. It is important to keep the relationship with God.
Expect the Lord. He will meet with us!