Jesus our defender
Acts 9:1-3: Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest 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. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?
If you turn on any major mainstream news outlet, before long you would swallow hard at the volume of stories that focus on how Christians are not, well Christian sounding. There are some pretty big misconceptions about who is a Christian. To a lot of people we are an antiquated, judgmental sect of people who have no tolerance for anyone other than Christians. It seems that persecution of who we are, without knowing who we are is en vogue these days. There is so much social change taking place in this world that it is hard to keep up with the story of the day involving something that has nothing to do with you or me.
We have terror acts in the name of faith, and somehow, Christians are being persecuted for either being intolerant or we become "the real terrorists."
I have witnessed extreme views of how we should be, or act, based on twisting of cliché sounding scripture that is taken out of context. You know what happens when you take scripture out of context, you con the text. That is what happens, and it becomes cumbersome to try and explain the truth from the lies that are spewed out.
The good news is that we don’t have to. When we hear others bent on making Christians look bad, we have some real context to place it in. The early Church experienced true persecution by Saul of Tarshish. The early Church was persecuted, jailed, and even killed for their beliefs. We were seen as a nuicense. We were seen as something we were not. Much like today, we were widely misrepresented in the eyes of the self-righteous. We were misrepresented in the eyes of the very learned.
What can we do? Rest in the truth of Jesus Christ. We don't have to change the minds of others. We only have to believe and trust in Jesus.
Follow the promptings of the Lord, and rest in the fact that He will do the work of changing lives. When someone tries to tell me how wrong I am, I always dig my heels in, and never change my view. I listen to the Lord for any change that needs to take place in my life, and so it is the same thing in the lives of the non-believers. Saul was transformed by a conversation with Jesus, and not with Peter. Take hope in the fact that Jesus will do the work, and do not fear the persecution of those who dislike you based on your faith. Scripture tells us that these things will happen, so we cannot be shocked that others will not like who we are. The good news continues, and the conversation with Saul goes something like this, "Saul, why do you persecute me?" Well, Saul was throwing people in jail, not Jesus specifically, but Jesus takes it personally, as if it were Him, Saul was persecuting. Does that not bring you hope? Of course it does, because any persecution against you, is one on Jesus.
Jesus does the work and gives Saul a new name, Paul. Paul, after learning the truth, goes on to bring the truth to so many people who didn’t even know who Jesus was, and it was all through the power of the Holy Spirit. Give Jesus the praise. Rest in the truth, and be who God called you to be. Do not worry about what others think of you, Jesus will give them a new name, and a new life, and you will be blessed by it. It is written, blessed is he who is persecuted for my name- Jesus.