My first day at an unfamiliar place, I like to proceed with caution. Whether it is a new school or a new job, whenever I have to introduce myself in such situations, I like to keep it simple and stick to the basics.
What does God do when He is the stranger in the room? I have discovered that He acts in a similar fashion – which is not to say that God is shy. Mysterious He is though; and starting with the basics, He unveiled some of the mystery to introduce Himself to me. God 101 for me was something like this:
“Hi! My name is God. Pleased to meet you. By the way: I do exist!”
Having grown up in an agnostic household, this was quite the revelation for me: God exists and He is actually pleased to meet me.
Different people have different stories with God. Here is Saul’s story:
On the road to Damascus, Saul fell off his high horse literally and figuratively speaking. He thought he had it all together. He thought he knew God. He was in shock when he laid eyes on Jesus for the very first time. He looked at Him, but could not figure out who He was. So he asked him (Acts 9:5):
“‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked.
‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied.”
Thinking he was doing God a favor, Saul had killed many believers affiliated with Jesus. It broke his heart to realize he had been murdering God’s people.
The incident on the road to Damascus had left Saul blind and helpless. He was lead into a room somewhere in the city where he sat utterly depressed, refusing to eat and drink. After three days of blindness, a local believer named Ananias came into his room to pray with him. When Saul regained his eyesight he was a new man. God 101 for Saul must have been something like this:
“Hi my name is God and I am gracious! Forget everything you thought you knew about Me. You thought you could see? Now you are blind! You thought you were an exemplary Jew? Now you realize you have blood of innocent people on your hands. – But do not despair, there is good news for you: My Son Jesus came to extend a hand of mercy. You are forgiven. You get to start over.”
Saul was profoundly humbled and transformed when he met Jesus, and from then on his name was changed from Saul to Paul.
Jesus did not come to condemn us; He came to save us. His expressed desire is to reveal Himself to every person on this planet, so we are no longer strangers, but cherished friends of God.