Before Paul was Paul, he went by the name of Saul. God made such a radical transformation in his life and in his identity that he changed his name. If you don’t know the story of Saul he was an evil man, trying to do good in the name of religion. Saul sought out Christians and over seen their beatings and even their deaths. Saul over saw the stoneing of the first deacon of the church, Stephen (Acts 7, Acts 7:58). Saul got permission from the high priest to bring in followers of Christ that they would be put in prison and tried.
In the middle of Saul’s campaign against the followers of Christ, Jesus himself spoke to Saul and said something very interesting
1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
Jesus didn’t ask Saul why he was persecuting the Christians, or why he was hurting his followers, but Jesus asked why Saul was persecuting him. Thats seems like a very strange thing to say, buy this point in history Jesus had already been crucified, already risen from the dead, and had already ascended and was sitting at the right hand of God, yet when the voice of Jesus confronted Saul Jesus said that Saul was persecuting him. This may come as a surprise but when people come persecuting you for being a Christian, its not you they are attacking it is Christ himself. Those that persecute Christians don’t care about the person, you can see that in day to day life. If you’re not affiliated with Jesus, people don’t care, but when you accept Jesus be prepared for outsiders to attack you for who is within you.
If you continue reading in chapter 9 of Acts and the rest of the bible, you will find that Saul accepted Christ and became Paul. The very one that was persecuting Christ, invited him to take over his life and lead him. Paul went on to become possibly the greatest Christian ever, he even wrote 13-14 books of the New Testament. One of those books was Romans, and in that book we get a big picture of what Christ said when he asked Saul why he was persecuting him:
So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
As Christians, as the Church, we are all the body of Christ, and when persecution comes our way its not us they really want to keep quiet, its the one who we serve. Jesus said in the sermon on the mount that it is even a blessing to persecuted for his sake:
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
I know what we’re all thinking, persecution isn’t really the blessing we was looking for. But when we make it through trials and we make it through persecution without giving in we can come out the other side and Jesus can get the glory and we can truly see the blessing in persecution.
1 Peter 4:13
13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
For more on this listen to the sermon preached during our Back To School Blast, Scars.