Me? Persecute Christ?!

"And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' And I said, 'Who are You, Lord?' and the Lord said, 'I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.' "
~ Acts 26:14 - 15

The first thing that comes to most of our minds when we think about the phrase "persecuting Jesus", we think about those abroad who are brutally beating and/or killing Christians. It seems our minds often carry us to the extreme when we consider most things. At least, that's the way my mind works. But the Lord our God's mind doesn't work that way. He cares intimately about every minute detail, i.e., God has numbered every hair on our heads (Matthew 10:30), God stores every tear in a bottle (Psalm 56:8), the Lord considers any who angrily slanders or hates another to be a murderer (Matthew 5:21-22 & 1 John 3:15), and our holy God considers lust to be adultery (Matthew 5:27-28).

In the eyes of our holy God, who lives in pure light, every little detail is seen and matters to Him. The Lord told us that He does not look at things like we do. We make sketchy judgments based on our limited vision and finite knowledge. God makes righteous judgments based on His infinite vision and infinite wisdom. For God, it is all a matter of the heart - for this is where sin is conceived and if we allow it, will grow and bear fruit.

"But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart."
~ 1 Samuel 16:7

"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."
~ Hebrews 4:12

"But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person."
~ Matthew 15:18)

By human standards, I haven't persecuted Jesus and don't on a regular basis. I'm not out slandering Christians, mocking them, beating them or even trying to kill them. Why would I, I'm a Christian myself! By human logic, this makes no sense to even consider that I, a follower of Jesus Christ would be persecuting the One I claim to love! The very thought is not only a bit insulting, but almost an impossibility! But it is not. For I have recently discovered that in my Christian life, I have persecuted my Lord and Savior and have (multiple times) grieved my the Holy Spirit with whom I am sealed until the redemption of my body (Ephesians 4:30-32).

By God's standard, persecution isn't the extreme things we think of. It is the subtle things we don't even consider at times. I'll give you an example. How often have you chosen to do something, whether it be something "good" for your family, ministry work, volunteering, feeding the poor, etc., but instead of praying and asking God if this is how He would like it done? Well, the answer for me, is - countless. So many times in my life I've done things for Christ, but in a way I thought seemed best at the time.

I'll let Oswald Chambers speak, since he makes this point very clear:

"Every time we stand on our rights and insist that this is what we intend to do, we are persecuting Jesus. Whenever we stand on our dignity we systematically vex and grieve His Spirit; and when the knowledge comes home that it is Jesus Whom we have been persecuting all the time, it is the most crushing revelation there could be.

Is the Word of God tremendously keen to me as I hand it on to you, or does my life give the lie to the things I profess to teach?"

King David did this very same thing with his first attempt to bring the Ark of God back to Jerusalem. The idea David had was great! It was very honorable, very noble and everyone around him agreed! But the only problem is, in his haste, David didn't bring the Ark of God back the way God said it must be done; thereby causing the death of Uzzah who irreverently touched the holy Ark of God.

David had a great idea to do something for God, but he did it in his way.

How often have you done this? How often have you decided that you were going to do something for Jesus, and had all sorts of ideas about how you were going to go about it, yet never once consulted the Lord first?

I will close with this profound thought from Oswald Chambers:

"The Spirit of Jesus is conscious of one thing only -- a perfect oneness with the Father...All I do ought to be founded on a perfect oneness with Him, not on a self-willed determination to be godly."

Merciful and most holy Father God, forgive me. Forgive me for being so immature in thinking that somehow I can do something for you - as if you needed me. But oh, Lord how I am so in awe of the fact that You don't need me, but allow me the honor and privilege to participate in Your glorious work! Lord, help me with my pride! Help me to remember that I must do things for You, Your way, or it truly is no longer for You, but for me. Help me to always see this truth. Thank You most gracious LORD for loving me in spite of myself. Thank You for compassionately calling out to me, "Sunny, Sunny, why are you persecuting Me?" so that I might be stopped in my haste to do something "good", yet am trampling on Your will instead - as I insist on mine. Forgive me Father God. I love you truly, with everything I have and all that I am. May oneness with You be my only hearts desire and motivation for all things. Amen.