Be Found In Christ
3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
For nearly two thousand years, the disciples of Christ have been facing persecution of unimaginable nature. Beaten, tortured, dismembered, crucified, impaled while covered in tar and set on fire while still alive, the list of brutal physical measures taken against the disciples of Jesus go on and on (for a better look, read “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs“).
Even two thousand years ago, the public ruination of disciples occurred. They were called cannibals (because of the unfounded belief of transubstantiation with the communion bread and wine), and often had their property seized. One of the most effective ways to punish someone was to remove their economic ability to flourish. It caused them to be far less effective in ministry (now having to work doubly hard just to get food let alone shelter), as well as sending a message to others that if they were found that way, they too would receive the same punishment.
Additionally, with the seizure of assets, the people persecuting the disciples became richer, and had better resources at their disposal to persecute others. In the United States of America, it has been found that some police departments would profile people who had property and assets that they coveted in order to use the drug laws as a hammer to defraud victims of their property. It made them very rich, and very feared.
Coupled in Christ
The good news is that we are IN CHRIST. There is something subtle here. Notice that Jesus asks Saul why he is persecuting HIM. He doesn’t ask why Saul is persecuting disciples, or Christians, or followers of the way. Jesus asks why Saul is persecuting Him. In the eyes of God, for all intents and purposes, we are joined to God in a way that is like marriage, where the two become one flesh.
Jesus views His disciples as part of Him. There is no distinction between us and Him. We ARE Him, in His eyes. As the image-bearers of Christ, we are joined to Him in such a way that what we do and say is as if He said and did it. It is imperative that we live our lives in such a way that God is glorified.
God gives Saul a command – to go into the city where he will be told what to do. Notice that God doesn’t say “repent!”. He gave a command to be obeyed. As followers of Christ, we have been told by Jesus that if we love Him, we will obey His commands. Since we are found to be in Christ, we must live and act as Christ did while on Earth. He was completely submitted to God, and obedient to all of His word. In order to be found faithful, we too must be obedient to the word of the Living God. For it is in obedience that we are found faithful, and then properly displaying the character of God.
Always remember that you are His image-bearer, His ambassador to the world. An ambassador has the trust to act in the name of the one who sent him, as well as the authority of him as well. We would do well to remember the awesome privilege and responsibility we have been graciously given so that we won’t abuse it.
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: Am I being a proper ambassador for Christ?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, You have been more than gracious and merciful to send Your Son to be crucified for our sins. You have joined us to You, and have given us great privilege and responsibility. Father, help me to do all that You have planned for me to do. Help me to remember that I am in Christ, and that I have the authority in Christ to do what You have commanded. Help me to remember that when I am persecuted, it is not because of me, but because of Jesus whom they hate and despise. Help me to remember that I was once like them, and to have compassion and mercy upon them for the sake of Your Holy name. This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.