You’re not alone.
To one degree or another, we’ve all been afraid to do what Jesus says, even when we know he’s right. It can be hard to direct a conversation toward the gospel without committing the classic Jesus Juke or just seeming insincere. It’s even harder to live out your faith in Christ when such a lifestyle is deemed intolerant or on the wrong side of history.
Many before you have experienced the same anxiety. But they obeyed anyway. We would all do well to follow their examples.
Ananias is a good man to start with.
God appeared to him in a vision and said just one word.
The man’s response was a classic biblical one. It sort of reminds you of Isaiah (Isaiah 6).
“Here I am, Lord.”
Before knowing what the Lord wanted to say, Ananias made his availability known. “I’m yours Lord. Right here. Whatever you say.”
You can’t help but wonder if Ananias questioned his initial response after considering the danger involved in obeying God’s command.
And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” Acts 9:11-12 (ESV)
Ananias’ response was another classic biblical one. Only this one was more like Jonah.
But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” Acts 9:13-14 (ESV)
To put all of this into perspective, imagine God coming to you and telling you to go meet and pray over the terrorist a few blocks away who wanted you thrown into jail for worshiping Jesus. Suddenly, Jonah doesn’t look like such a bad guy.
Ananias’ fear came as no surprise to God. Nothing ever does. But God doesn’t respond the way that we would if we were trying to convince someone to carry out a dangerous order.
He never said, “Nothing bad will ever happen to you. You’re a King’s kid!”
In fact, the Lord’s words don’t seem very comforting at all.
Basically he says, “Go anyway” (Acts 9:15-16).
At first glance, one might think that God is being cruel or indifferent. But some of Christ’s last words before leaving earth help us to see that the opposite is true.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Matthew 28:18 (ESV)
Do you remember Ananias’ initial complaint in verse 14?
“God, I can’t do that. This guy has authority to throw me into jail.”
In his Great Commission, Jesus reminds us who really has the authority. It’s not any set of chief priests. It’s not The Supreme Court, President Obama or Mitch McConnell. It’s not your boss. It’s not you and it’s not the person you fear most.
All authority has been given to Jesus. That means that any authority man has on earth is on loan from God. And just as surely as Jesus gives it to man, he can take it away.
Ananias obeyed Jesus, went to see Paul and prayed over him. But he did not pray over him as an enemy. No, Ananias prayed over him as a brother (9:17). Only the gospel, under the authority of Jesus Christ, can turn enemies into brothers. And typically, God uses small situations and seemingly obscure servants to do great things. Ananias didn’t get the amount of coverage in the Bible that Paul did. He wasn’t the Billy Graham of his time. But he was faithful. And that is enough.
Living for Jesus can be hard. The intimidation from others can be overwhelming. We can even be tempted to think that our little efforts aren’t making a difference. Watering down our faith or shutting down until Jesus returns can seem like the only reasonable options. That’s when it is important to remember something else.
Jesus is in charge.
Obeying him is often costly.
But there is no better place to be in life than in complete surrender to his perfect authority.
So just go anyway.