January 28, 2016

Be careful about picking on anyone . . .

Saul, before he became a Christian and his name was changed to Paul, hated anything that went against his idea of proper faith in God. He was a Pharisee, well-educated and sure of himself. However, one day during his rampage against Christians, he was confronted by Jesus Christ and a blinding light.

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.’ (Acts 26:14)

A goad is pointed instrument used for urging on oxen, horses and other beasts of burden. From this came an idiom or proverb, “to kick against the goad” which means ‘to offer vain and perilous or ruinous resistance to authority in such a way as to cause harm or suffering to oneself.’ In other words, “Saul, why are you persecuting me? You are hurting yourself by your resistance.”

Saul may have meant well, at least in his own evaluation of what he was doing, but as Chambers says, those set on their own way in obstinacy and self-will will always stab Jesus Christ. These actions may not hurt others, but every time I stand on my rights and insist on doing whatever I want to do, I am resisting the authority of God the Son. In effect, that is persecuting Jesus.

What a crushing thought that I could vex and grieve the Spirit of God. When Saul realized he was doing it, he was immediately helpless. The blinding light took his sight, but this blinding light of truth took the fight right out of him. Within days, he submitted his life to Christ, holding nothing back. No more persecution.

Sometimes I’m shocked that persecution can come from religious people. It might be from those who form their own belief system against the plain teaching of Scripture. It might also be from those who adhere and teach the Gospel, yet their lives give lie to what they profess to teach.

I could also teach truth and not live it — and this is the attitude that persecutes Jesus Christ. He is conscious of one thing only—a perfect oneness with the Father. He tells me, “Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.” When I do my own thing and go my own way, it is not out of meekness nor perfect oneness with Him, but a self-willed determination to be godly, making my spiritual life all about me instead of all about Him. That is most hateful.

Saul was antagonistic toward Christians too, even with murderous intent. While my self-righteousness might not go that far, any self-righteousness springs from anti-Christ sinfulness. In Saul’s case, Jesus asked him why he was persecuting Him, taking personal any action against His people. He lives in those who truly believe, making how I treat other believers the same as how I am treating Jesus. This is a strong and sobering message and a genuine test of my relationship with Him.

There is another thought here. Jesus took a whip after the money-changers and called the Pharisees hypocrites and white-washed tombs. He was antagonistic toward self-righteous pretenders, not true believers. I am not Jesus and cannot always know who is who in the religious world, but the story of Saul and the actions of Jesus must be carefully considered. I am to “love my enemies” but Jesus is not telling me to “be nice” and disregard hypocrisy and false teaching, not in myself nor in anyone else.

Perhaps these are both sides of the same issue: keep my relationship with Him true and honest for when I do, then He will give me light, not to blind me but to show me how to relate to others.

Last night’s infectious diseases specialist discovered that Bob tested positive as a child on the test for TB. He has never had it so the doctor figured it was likely a false positive. However, taking no chances, he ordered more tests. Carriers of TB can come down with this awful disease when weakened by something like CLL. They can also give it to others. Since that has not happened, the tests should be negative, but just to be safe, they put him in an ultra isolation room that requires better masks and more precautions.

One good thing from this is that the nurses are not in there every few minutes waking him up! He might get some more much needed sleep. He does feel a bit better today too.

Another good sign is that he is highly annoyed that he cannot go out of the room for 3-4 short walks that he’s enjoyed the past couple of days. But a bright spot: two visitors brought a container of oatmeal raisin cookies, his favorite kind. At least he does not have to wear a mask (they are tight and totally uncomfortable) so he can eat this welcome treat!

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