Saturday, August 21, 2010

responding with resistance

Among the many amazing miracles we see in the New Testament...healings, driving out demons, raising dead to life...I don't any top the conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus (Acts, chapter 9).  It appears from the account of Acts, chapters 7 & 8 that Saul was Public Enemy No. 1 to the young church.  It is likely that his personal persecution of early believers caused many to flee Jerusalem and to spread the Gospel as an unintended consequence.  He decided to take his passion for persecution on the road and so he got a letter from the high priest that authorized him to go about 150 miles north to Damascus and drag believers from there back to face trial, and likely death, in Jerusalem.  Why did Saul hate the church so much?  This is the question that Jesus asked him.  As Saul traveled with others on the way to Damascus a blinding light came from above, Saul fell to the ground and he heard the voice of the Lord say: "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"  Because the church is Christ's body, when Saul attacked the church it was the same as assaulting Christ, Himself.  Saul answered this question with a question (verse 5) And he said, "Who are You, Lord?"  Jesus replied that He was the One speaking and then Jesus said something very interesting (from the Amplified version..verse 5 "It is dangerous and it turns out badly for you to keep kicking against the goad - that is, to offer vain and perilous resistance."  Apparently Saul had been under conviction by the Holy Spirit for some time...perhaps since viewing Stephen's remarkable testimony and glorified death.  Instead of yielding to that prodding, he tried to retaliate against it...thinking that if he could destroy this movement he could rid himself of convicting thoughts that had been hounding him.  This is why he had been able to do nothing with his life beyond this consuming destruction...he couldn't seem to move past the sense that God was trying to reach Him with the truth of Jesus' mission and message.  When Saul finally was stopped on the road and made to face this uncomfortable truth he realized that it was no longer necessary to fight the was necessary to believe Him and to bow before Him.
This is the same challenge that all will face who will seriously look at the life, the actions, the resurrection, the promises and the great hope offered by Jesus.  We have three choices with Jesus: to ignore Him, to resist Him and to accept Him.  My hope is that you will face Jesus directly in the face and accept Him.  It is much easier than resisting Him and to ignore Him is to live the ultimate denial.
Rob Smith

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