“Arise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose…” Acts 26:16
In the Bible, we can see things happening on more than one level. We can see the actions of God’s Spirit moving his purposes forward in the world. We can also see the interior world of individuals being transformed by an encounter with God’s grace.
Acts 26 is a perfect example of this kind of vision. God has his apostle standing trial before this world’s rulers, declaring the gospel and calling people to repentance. By the purposeful orchestration of events, God will eventually get his apostle before the highest officer in the empire – Caesar himself. God’s truth is marching on.
We also hear this apostle, Paul, retelling how he had his interior world totally transformed as God revealed his Son to him. According to Paul, when Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus, he was captivated and captured. Paul beheld Jesus and saw him to be the Lord to whom he, and all people, are to give allegiance. He was captured by Christ to join him in his great purpose in the world. The purpose of Christ became the purpose of Paul.
What can we make of these two levels of vision? First, we can make sense of the world. From the beginning of time, humans have asked the question of the meaning of life. This question has consumed the academic world in the realm of philosophy. But trained philosophers aren’t the only ones debating meaning. Purpose in life is the topic of pop culture as well. Every movie you’ve seen and song you’ve sung has within it some statement on the meaning of life.
Acts 26 shows us that the meaning of life can only be found in the creator of life. God, in Christ, has a purpose. This overarching purpose is revealed to us in the good news of Jesus.
Second, we can make the connection between God’s purpose and ours. It’s one thing to talk about meaning and purpose in a detached way as we debate the various philosophies of life. It’s another thing to be faced with the question of our own purpose. At some point, everyone eventually gets to the place of feeling the need for meaning in life. We all wrestle with our purpose.
Acts 26 shows us that when Jesus appears to us, he captures us for his purpose, thus giving us a lasting purpose for our lives. His purpose becomes ours. We find our lives in him.
In Christ, our purpose is to know him, to conform to his character, to live in a way that reflects positively on his grace, to use our resources to serve him and others, and to see that his name is known in our neighborhoods and among the nations.
When God reveals his Son to us, we are captured to pursue his purposes.
I hope you will read Acts 26 this weekend, and join us Sunday for worship and a word about purpose.