Why do you persecute ME?
Why do you persecute ME? Acts 9: 4
Here is a phrase I should pay very close attention to. Saul was persecuting the church, he was having believers killed. He felt it was his duty to rid the earth of these people. This went on for some time. Saul later named Paul was very zealous about what he was doing. He felt he was doing all of this in the name of Jesus and that he was doing God a favor. He saw himself as better than these people. Little did he know.
Saul was persecuting, killing, doing his best to destroy as many believers as he could, all in the name of Jesus. He truly felt He was right about everything and that everyone else was wrong. But then one day on the road to Damascus he encountered the “True God!” It was an experience that rocked his world. As he was traveling her heard a voice say to him……”Saul, Saul why do you persecute ME?” Who are you , Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting, he replied.
Two things stick out to me.
First Jesus says…why are you persecuting ME? He did not say why are you persecuting the believers, the Christians, the church, he identified himself personally with the true believers. Jesus took all that he was doing personally. In other words, Jesus was saying….what you are doing to these people, you do to unto me. OUCH!!!
Let’s put things into perspective and get personal. There is no better place to do this than at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. As I walk back in time and sit myself there as a spectator watching all that is happening to my Lord and listening to all of the horrible and wrongful accusations a picture is being painted for me. I watch and wonder how on this earth could people be so cruel to my Lord. I wonder how on this earth could that strike his face, beat him, shove a crown of thorns down onto his precious head and face. How could they beat him, strip him naked, slap his face, spite on him. How on this earth could they do this to my Lord? I hear his cries as they hammer the spikes into his precious and loving hands and feet. I see the pain in his eyes and on his face. I hear the moans and groans of pain. I see the soldier reach up and pierce his side. I see and hear the agony of my Lord. I don’t understand this. I don’t understand how people could do this. I understand that it was all part of God’s plan, I know this. But to watch the people mistreat Him, and hurt Him, is hard to bear. I don’t like to think about that time of pain and suffering he endured for me and for you and for the people that did this to him.
Then I suddenly realize that I am no better than those people that beat Him, striped him, spit on Him, slapped Him, nailed the spikes into his precious hands and feet. I am no better than the soldier that pierced His side. I am no better than any of these people. I suddenly realized that every time I gossip, say unkind things about a believer, make false accusations, say hurtful things that damage a believers character, cause others to feel badly towards someone because of my bad feelings towards that person, is no different than the people that did these terrible and cruel things to Jesus Christ. WHY? Because Crist personally identifies Himself with true believers. That meant what I do to others, I do unto Him. Let that sink in. When I engage in things like this Jesus says to me…..Martha, Martha why do you persecute ME?
We just don’t get it. We scrap, fight, argue amongst ourselves because our flesh rules. We are just like Saul on the road to Damascus. We think we know what is best, we think we know what is right and everyone else is wrong. WE feel that we have it right and everyone else has it wrong.
WHY do we continue on in our pitiful, sad ways? Why do we continue to pierce our Lord’s side, slap His precious face, spit on Him, beat Him, crucify Him and feel we are doing Him a favor? Why do we do this? The answer is easy. It is found in the Acts 9: 5 which brings me to the second thing that really sticks out in the passage. God calls out to Saul, and Saul says back to God….Who are you Lord?
Now why would Saul have to ask God who He was? After all he was doing all of this stuff in the name of Jesus, he was killing Christians, persecuting the church all in the name of Jesus. However when he heard the voice of God, he did not recognize it. He had to ask …Who are you?
Do you think that this is the case with many of us today? We are in the church, we are working diligently in the church, we are serving, singing, teaching, we feel that we are good Christians, but we behave like Saul before he met Jesus.
Saul did not recognize the voice of Jesus, he had to ask who it was that was talking to him. I have to ask myself do I fall into that category? Do I recognize the voice or Jesus when he speaks to me? If I am not in the word of God daily, then I have to say, no I would not recognize His speaking voice either. In fact the Word of God is His speaking voice. If we are not in his word on a daily basis we are not even placing ourselves in a position to hear his voice. The more I am in His work the better I will recognize His speaking voice. I don’t want to be like Saul on the road to Damascus. I don’t want God to speak to me and question me and I don’t recognize His voice? I don’t want to have to ask …Who are you?
So many of us do this very thing everyday within the body of Christ and we do not even recognize that we do this. We continue to persecute the Lord who died for us thinking we are doing him a favor. WE continue to treat each other in a manner that is despicable. We spread rumors, lies, gossip, hurtful things all in an attempt to gather people to our corner. To ignorant to realize that we are guilty of dividing up our Lords cloths, stabbing His side with a sword, slapping him in the face, spitting on Him.
We don’t recognize that we do this because we like Saul don’t recognize His speaking voice. Why? Because we don’t spend enough time listening to Him speak to us, because we worship ourselves, and our ideas of what we think is right. We are so consumed with our own ideas, our own thoughts that we can’t even hear Him speak to us and if he did we would probably not recognize Him.
The proof that this goes on is found in how we treat one another within the body of Christ. If we are ripping and tearing each other apart then we need to sit down, shut up and learn to listen for that still, quiet voice speak to us and pray that God will cause us to recognize His voice and obey what He says.
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