Do they deliberately persecute Jesus?
The writer is a church pastor and a regular columnist for The Journal.
By Dave Havir
BIG SANDY, Texas--From time to time people ask: How can I help my friends (who are considered leaders) to see that their approach toward saints is violating Scripture?
My answer is not very encouraging to those who sincerely want to help them right now.
Saul of Tarsus was a zealous Pharisee (Acts 22:3). In his zeal for God he persecuted saints.
(Understand that leaders of today do not hurt the saints with the same severity with which Saul persecuted the saints in his day. But that does not change the fact that leaders are indeed hurting saints.)
Jesus the Lord decided to get Saul's attention. Saul was on the road to Damascus to punish more saints when Jesus confronted him (Acts 9:1-3).
Who empowered Saul?
Why did Saul persecute Jesus? Did you ever notice who empowered Saul to misuse authority?
Saul received authority from the high priest to threaten and punish saints (Acts 9:1-2).
Yet it wasn't just the high priest who empowered Saul. He received authority from the high priest and "the estate of the elders" (the council) to punish the saints (Acts 22:5).
In fact, Saul headed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests (Acts 26:12).
Saul was empowered by the religious leaders to persecute saints. Saul was empowered by a religious class system.
Prophecy reveals that saints will be hurt by shepherds (Ezekiel 34:1-5).
It is true that some authority figures among the Churches of God are ravening wolves in sheep's clothing (Matthew 7:15).
However, it is also true that many of the authority figures among the Churches of God are misguided zealots (Romans 10:2-3).
Saul was a zealous Pharisee who didn't realize he was persecuting Jesus.
Avoiding and praying
Sometimes people among the Churches of God feel trapped when enduring continual persecution from religious leaders.
What does the Bible say?
On the road again
If you ever put distance between yourself and religious-authority figures, don't stop praying for them.
Although you may not be able to help them at this time, realize that someday they will see the light.
Jesus the Apostle will confront them on their road to Damascus.
© The Journal: News of the Churches of God