In this series in which we have been considering the theme, Encountering God, we have largely focused on positive examples of where God has broken into the life of an individual, reveals Himself, speaks to them, and affects the course of their lives for good. In this article we are going to look at a slightly different case, one in which the encounter with God ends on a rather sad or sour note for the individual concerned. The key point here is that an encounter with God can either be for promotion or destruction.
An amazing and nerve-tingling example of an antagonist who encountered God, resulting in the complete transformation of his life, is that of Saul of Tarsus.
Saul had been a ruthless instrument in the hands of the devil in the persecution and destruction of the early Church. On his way to Damascus, on yet another errand of brutality, God met him, struck him with blazing light and subdued him; in that instant radically changing the course of his life. We read this in the ninth chapter of the book of Acts. The persecutor became a preacher. The fiendish murderer went on to become the greatest apostle in the early Church, following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, whom he had fought against. His encounter with Jesus was one of transformation for good.
Again in the New Testament, we see another example of a powerful figure that was equally uncompromisingly opposed to Jesus Christ, the Gospel, and the work of the early Church. King Herod was so strongly opposed to the Church that he unleashed a reign of terror, not only on the members of the early Church, but also on those who showed even the slightest hint of support for the believers.
One day he stood on his podium and made a great oration. The people cheered and said, “The gods have spoken! The gods have spoken!” However, while the crowd was in full tilt, King Herod became an instant delicacy in the mouth of worms. He was eaten by them. He had encountered the God of the Christians that he was persecuting. While Saul’s encounter was one of salvation, that of Herod was one of destruction.
These examples offer hope and warning in equal measure. My prayer is that no one reading this article will be found on the list of those who encounter God for destruction, but rather like Paul of Tarsus, for transformation and promotion.
Copyright Emmanuel Mbakwe 2013©
PS: If you have been inspired, provoked or learnt something from this article, why not do any or all of the following: (i) leave some feedback or a comment, either positive or developmental; (ii) recommend it to a friend; (iii) share it with a friend. This will encourage and help me to serve you better, so together we can make a difference in our world.