Acts 9:1-16 (7-20) â€“ Second Sunday after Easter â€“ for April 14, 2013
â€œSaul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing . . .â€ (Acts 9:8)
The 2009 film The Blind Side made wheelbarrows of money. Sandra Bullock received an Oscar for her performance. I liked the movie. I laughed. I wept. I cheered. The title of the film refers to a football teamâ€™s need to protect a quarterbackâ€™s blind side. Bad things happen when a quarterback focuses downfield, searching for a receiver, and an unseen opponent approaches to thwart the play.
Of course the title works in multiple ways. Itâ€™s not only about football.
Then thereâ€™s Survivor, the silly (but also oddly revealing) reality show. Contestants fret about blindsides. Whenâ€”not ifâ€”will another player stab them in the proverbial back? Alliances will get tossed under the bus . . . or nearest coconut tree. (Please, in the current season, will someone blindside â€œsecret agentâ€ Phil? Now!)
Iâ€™ve been blindsided. Twenty years ago this monthâ€”and yeah, I remember the day and time of nightâ€”a United Methodist District Superintendent called to tell me to move to a different church. Nothing like a phone call before bedtime to hear your present and future have been, er, tossed under a coconut tree. He and I didnâ€™t get along. He was right about some of his concerns regarding me; I was right about some of the positions I took that irked him. So, both of us were right and wrong. However he held power over me. Bad news:Â Blindsided!
And yet blindsided can have its upsides. My wife and I just celebrated our twenty-ninth anniversary. I happily recall the first time I spotted her thirty-one years ago: Â the left side of the churchâ€™s back row when I stood to preach. Whoâ€™s that? Whoa! (If asked a few days before that pre-sermon epiphany, Iâ€™d have wondered if I could ever heal from my first marriage . . . and divorce.) Good news:Â Blindsided!
Saul of Tarsus was blindsided. On his journey to Damascus Saul-whoâ€™d-become-Paul had an agenda . . . â€œBreathing threats and murder,â€ the Acts of the Apostles gleefully proclaimed. Before he became Paul, he was a mean-hearted, anti-Christian, butt-kicking dude. Then God, so the story goes, blindsided the fearsome Pharisee and terror from Tarsus. Conversion!
Literally, according to scripture, Paul lost his sight somewhere between blazing light, a heavenly voice and smacking the ground. Or maybe he didnâ€™t. Even a casual reader of the Bible will notice thereâ€™s a difference between Actsâ€™ dramatic rendering of Paulâ€™s conversion and the places (like the opening of Galatians) where Paul personally writes about his transformation. I view Acts as one part history and one part a cheerleading PR effort to make the rise of the followers of Christ look good. Really, really good. Continue reading →