Acts 9:1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
Saul’s question, “Who are you, Lord,?” was the unexpected beginning of his identity with Christ. We see the reality of the man God created Paul to be unfold in a large part of the New Testament. Those words still inspire us today to discover the reality of our own identity with Christ.
You know Paul’s story. He walked down that Damascus road convinced he knew the unassailable truth about God. Paul saw himself as obedient, full of moral virtue and willing to brutally ensure the future of what he believed. God saw something more: a committed man who was not Godless, but not Godly either when He asked “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
Paul’s identity with Christ began when he replied “Who are you, Lord?” The answer would open his eyes and change his heart from the unassailable truth he knew ABOUT God to the unassailable truth OF God. The Bible is filled with stories of flawed, but not Godless, people we can easily identify with who were changed into Godly people with a new identity. Paul wrote about his own experience of God’s revealed truth. That truth still has the power to change the identity of those who dare to ask “Who are you, Lord?”
📌 NIV 9…We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives…
📌 NLT 11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need.
📌 NLT 28…perfect [or mature] in [your] relationship to Christ.
It’s interesting that Paul’s long ago words are prayers of encouragement from an old friend I’ve never even met. There’s another complete stranger who’s become a friend over the years too: Oswald Chambers. His book My Utmost for His Highest has been a meaningful companion to my life of faith for almost 40 years now. That’s pretty notable considering it’s “just” a 365-day devotional. It’s online, free and most importantly a searchable resource. [https://utmost.org]
Here are two perspectives from Chamber’s writing on Colossians 1 that directed my own thoughts.
📌 [9/30] sacramental personality.
📌 [11/9] If we preach the effects of Redemption in human life instead of the revelation regarding Jesus, the result in those who listen is not new birth, but refined spiritual culture
Jesus is our redemption. Our salvation is the revelation of him and that changes our heart and mind about many things. In my own experience as dramatic as that revelation is it doesn’t automatically change the habits of personality. I think what Oswald Chambers calls sacramental personality is exactly what Paul is addressing here. Sacramental personality is letting the transformation of that revelation to your heart and mind reveal itself in your personality too. That’s why Paul prays for “God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.”
Sacramental personality is our post-redemption challenge. It’s pretty easy to get comfortable with the assurance of your salvation and end up finding you’re only part of the “refined spiritual culture.” It’s very easy to excuse personality issues as “it’s just the way I am.” Jesus has done his part, he’s changed your heart and mind. You now belong to him but your personality is where you begin to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” That’s why Paul reminds us “we also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need” to be ”perfect [or mature] in [your] relationship to Christ.