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What If?

"If we are going to be an everyday Ananias, it begins with how we choose to live deeply with Jesus." By Steve Carter

One of the most humbling realities is how the God of all creation longs to partner with you and me. Have you ever considered that? God could have dreamed this any way He wanted, and He consistently chooses to want to involve us in His grand redemption story. 

To make matters even more profound, the Scriptures are adamant that God is here. Wherever you are reading this, God is there. As one writer told me once, “God is closer than the air we breathe.” Let’s take this a little farther. If God is here, and He longs to partner with us in His grand redemption story, then that means every moment is brimming with redemptive potential. 

Every coffee shop, school gymnasium, shopping center, street corner, every cubicle in the marketplace is brimming with redemptive potential. 

We rarely know ahead of time where and when these opportunities will come; but God is constantly inviting us to partner with Him. How we respond is fully up to us!

That’s why I love Ananias in the Bible. He was this ordinary, everyday Christ follower who is only mentioned a handful of times in Scripture. He loved the people in his city and wanted to see God move in a new way. 

So, when God called out to him, he responded with a simple, “Yes, Lord.” When God followed that up with an invitation to partner with Him in a high stakes task in His  grand redemption story, Ananias did it!

God tells Ananias to go to a specific house in downtown Damascus to meet Saul of Tarsus. This was a big ask by God. Saul was a bad dude who was empowered by the religious leaders to be dead set on stopping the movement of Christ by any means necessary. 

I’ve often wondered, “What if Ananias said no?” What if, when God asked him, Ananias gave in to self-doubt and fear, and began making excuses and simply opted out? The New Testament would look a lot different and many people would have missed out. Saul would have missed out on hearing the good news, Ananias would have missed out on the thrill of God using him and we all possibly would have missed out on the rich theology that Saul (who we know now as Paul) wrote in the New Testament. 

What If Ananias Said No?

Or maybe the better question is, “What if we say no to God’s promptings to partner with Him?” Every time a Jesus follower says no to God’s invitation, the Church suffers, individuals suffer, families suffer, cities, counties, states and countries all suffer. And if I take this to the next logical conclusion, if God is here, wants to partner with us and we say no, then not only does our world suffer but heaven also suffers. 

Someone recently asked me, “Besides Jesus, who is your favorite character in the Bible?” Without missing a beat, I quickly responded, “Ananias! Not the guy who stole money from the church, but the one who was willing to risk it all for what matters most to heaven.”

The God of all heaven and earth invites us to align ourselves with His heartbeat for humanity. This has only, ever, always been about people—and people are the only thing we can bring with us into the next reality. A mentor once told me, “The single greatest gift you can give another person is an introduction to the God who loves them.”

And it all starts by saying, “Yes, Lord,” when He prompts. 

What I came to realize about Ananias that allowed him to live such an invitational life was what the Scriptures say, “He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there.” 

Ananias lived deeply with Jesus. So much so that Saul was wanting to come 150 miles from Jerusalem to Damascus to shut him down. Ananias was a disciple which means he had high desire and high devotion to be like his rabbi Jesus. 

If we are going to be an everyday Ananias, it begins with how we choose to live deeply with Jesus. 

In addition to living like Jesus, Ananias shows up with expectation. Saul hasn’t eaten for days; he’s blinded by his encounter with Jesus (as we learn in Acts 9) and waiting for someone to come. Ananias, against all odds,  shows up with expectation because he knows God is here and if God is here, then every moment is brimming with redemptive potential. How do you show up to your favorite coffee shop, restaurant, park or marketplace? Do you show up trying to get in and get out or with openness and curiosity for what God might be stirring? 

Third, Ananias is willing to relate well with everyone. Acts 22 tells us everyone spoke highly of him and now Saul, this persecutor of the church, is going to experience what makes Ananias so special. When Ananias shows up, he finds Saul in the fetal position, blind and hungry. Ananias walks up to him and calls him “brother.” Our world is more divided than ever, and we need more everyday Ananias’ who are willing to look for what unites us rather than what divides us. 

Lastly, Ananias is willing to risk it all for what matters most to God. Ananias is unable to fully grasp who Saul/Paul will be for the Kingdom but he deeply trusts what God can do in a person’s life. 

What about you? Do you see someone by what they have done in the past or by what they can be if Christ were at the center?

To be an everyday Ananias, we must: live, show up, relate and risk it all. 

Ananias is only mentioned no more than a handful of times; but his impact on the Church is incredible. Ananias was someone who lived deeply with Jesus, shows up consistently with expectations, relates well with everyone and is willing to risk it all for what matters most.  

Friends, I believe this is something each one of us can do. It all starts with having one ear to heaven throughout our day where we are listening for God’s promptings. And when He prompts, may we always say, “Yes, Lord!” Because we know, we don’t get a Paul unless an Ananias shows up and we don’t get a William Booth unless a couple bravely invites him to church. It’s our choice. How will we choose to respond to God’s promptings?

Maybe the real question is not, “What if we say no; but rather what if we say YES?” 

For Further Study



  • Becoming Something with Jonathan Pokluda | Episode 112: How To Share Your Faith (And Why You Should!)
  • Happy & Healthy with Jeanine Amapola | How To Be Set Apart & Share the Gospel

Steve is a pastor, speaker, author, podcast host, sports enthusiast and the former lead teaching pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. Steve’s passion is to bring Jesus into everything he does. A gifted teacher, Steve spends his days crafting sermons, messages, blog posts and books to encourage people in their walk with Christ.

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