". . . Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" Acts 9:4
The dance between darkness and light will always remain. Saul was spiritually blinded until he was awakened by a greater light.
Considering the circumstances of returning from the execution of Stephen, the light from heaven and the two-fold use of his name – reminiscent of the way God had addressed Abraham, Jacob, and Moses, speaking their names twice – Saul knew he was in the presence of the risen Jesus.
Saul's conversion happens around noon, when the sun was at its brightest, which made it all the more startling. The noon day sun was swallowed up by the light of heaven. A light from heaven suddenly flashed around him brighter than the noon day sun. Saul fell to the ground and heard a voice. The voice from heaven speaks, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting."
We might be tempted to think this was only part of Saul's story of conversion, but there's a lesson here for us beyond that of experiencing the saving work of Christ. There is, in this story, a warning and an instruction.
The Lord identifies with His bride, the church. To persecute the church is to persecute Jesus Himself. While Saul was hitting the church, Jesus was actually feeling the pain!
Consider this the next time you arm-chair quarterback a church service on Monday morning, or sit in a coffee shop and take pot shots at the way church does things. Consider it if ever there's a time when you are feeling you have a right to be openly critical of the pastoral staff, or if ever there’s a time you decide to air grievances about your problems with church on social media, all in the name of "just getting it out there."
Stop and remember, it’s the equivalent of punching Jesus in the face. Tirades of bitterness based on personal offenses are the same as spitting in the face of Jesus. It's as though you stepped up to Jesus Himself and sucker punched him in the stomach. Jesus feels every word and wound.
How have you given Jesus a beat-down?