Things you don’t want to do

In today’s reading (Acts 9:10-19) Ananias has a vision in which the Lord tells him to go heal Saul. This is interesting for several reasons.

The Lord calls Ananias by name. It  wasn’t necessary to add this detail, unless it follows some story form I’m not aware of. The use of the word “name” comes up several times in this passage so I think it’s safe to assume any time a name is called or the noun name is used, there’s significance to it.

Of Saul, the Lord says, “…he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel.” My name.

The Lord gives Ananias a reason for doing this work, just as a celestial messenger gave Mary a reason for her mission. God does not seem to mind explaining himself. This is a form of respect, I think.

Ananias really doesn’t want to do the job, because Saul is known to be authorized by the leadership to “bind all those who invoke your name.” Again, the use of “name” seems significant. The term is used frequently to describe something like God’s authority, but I’m not sure I understand it.

I wonder, why doesn’t the Lord just heal Saul? Why not heal him without the intervention of Ananias?

Ananias calls Saul “brother.” I’m curious to know the significance of this. My first thought was, this is recognition that Saul was a brother in Christ. This seems like an act of trust and faith, given Saul’s reputation. Or, it could simply mean he’s a brother Isrealite. Is the difference important?

The mission of Ananias to Saul involves more than just physical healing. It seems he is to facilitate Saul being filled with the Holy Spirit. To me, this would seem to make he is being placed in a particularly vulnerable position. Ananias is being asked to take a significant risk to advance the name of the Lord.

Lord, awaken me to the mission you have for me. Show me the meaning and purpose of what I am to do. Teach me the meaning and significance of your name. Help me do the things I would rather not do, things I may in fact have a good reason to question, but which it is my duty to faithfully perform to further your kingdom. Amen.

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