For many people this is their favorite time of the year. For those who love college basketball, it simply doesn’t get any better than this! They call it March Madness as college basketball heads toward crowning a new champion. This year’s NCAA Tournament has been absolutely crazy! For the first time in tournament history a #16 seed defeated a #1 seed. And of course the #1 seed was my favorite team – the Virginia Cavaliers. I was sad at first because I know how hard that loss was for Coach Bennett and especially those 18-21 year old players who have invested so much in becoming successful on the basketball court.
But the truth is there are so many more important things going on in our world. So, while it may be March Madness, we as a church have been talking each week in March about having Gospel Conversations. I know it can be intimidating to have a spiritual conversation with a friend, coworker or neighbor but listen… What if God is already at work in that person’s life, and God is going to use you and your testimony to lead them to become a follower of Christ? Could there be a greater blessing than that? That is even better than cutting down the nets as a tournament champion!
Now you may think – that could never happen. God could never use me in that way. Listen, nobody thought the University of Maryland Baltimore County would beat the number one seed in the entire tournament either but it happened! It also reminds me of the biblical account of the life of Paul. Paul (his name was Saul then) was there when Stephen was stoned to death in Acts chapter 7. In Acts chapter 9 Paul is said to be breathing out threats and murder against those who followed Jesus.
It was on his way to Damascus to arrest more believers that Saul (Paul) encountered the living Jesus Christ. Paul was struck blind during this encounter and was led by the hand into the city of Damascus where he sat blind for three days. As Paul sat there completely blind, God was giving a vision to a follower of Jesus named Ananias. In this vision Ananias was told to go and pray for Paul so that he would regain his sight and follow Christ. Ananias didn’t want to go. He was afraid of Paul because of his reputation for doing evil to believers and the knowledge that Paul had authority from the chief priests to arrest any followers of Jesus he came across.
Ananias did not want to have this spiritual conversation with Paul! Can you relate? Do you have a Paul in your life? Do you know someone that has always been hostile when it comes to matters of faith? You may say it would be madness to go and have a Gospel conversation with a person like that!
That was Ananias’ first reaction, but he was faithful to go and talk with Paul and to pray for him. When Ananias talked and prayed with Paul he regained his sight and was filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17-18). His name was changed from Saul (who had persecuted believers) to Paul. This same Paul, God used as a witness to the Gentiles and to write so much of the New Testament.
Never underestimate God’s love for those around you or His power to redeem. You may feel like a #16 seed, but during March Madness anything is possible! Take that step of faith and have a Gospel Conversation. Who knows if the next Paul, Billy Graham, or faithful follower of Christ may one day be telling their story of how their life changed when they were invited to share a meal at Chick-Fil-A! Don’t let the March Madness end; have a Gospel Conversation!