These words of Jesus to Paul haunt me as I pray for the Christians on the hill in Iraq. They are literally the light on the hill that cannot be hidden. God is calling all of us to pray, give, love and support. Jesus is being persecuted. I remember the words of a short-term missionary who went to a communist country and was arrested and held for a few days before released. The pastor who was arrested with him told him. “Tell the Christians in America that we are able to get through this because we know they are praying for us.” The man just smiled and nodded. He did not have the heart to tell the pastor that the Christians in America don’t really pray much for the persecuted church. We are about other things and fail to see our connection to the Christian’s across the world from us.
God has allowed the people on the hill to draw our attention to the reality of the persecuted church. We cannot ignore the atrocities of this world. Will you cry out to God for the persecuted church? Will you add them to your daily prayers? Can we prove the short-term missionary wrong? Can we be a church who hurts when others are hurting? Can we be like Jesus and feel that in persecuting our brothers and sisters in Christ, they are persecuting us?
You can text bgr to 80888 and you will donate $10 to the International Missionary Board to bring aid to those Christians in Iraq. The Voice of the Martyrs www.persecution.com will keep you in touch with individuals who are being persecuted for their Christian faith all around the world. You can follow them on Facebook and receive regular reminders for prayer.
Let this question Jesus asked Paul resonate in your ears. Jesus went on to point out to Paul during this same meeting on the Road to Emmaus, it is hard to kick against the goads in Acts 26:12-15.
“On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting’, the Lord replied.”
A goad is an instrument used by a farmer to discipline or guide the animals to the chores they were meant for. This comment seems to imply that Jesus had been calling out to Paul way before He blinded him on the road to Damascus. Paul had kicked against the goads; he had ignored His nudging. I know that no one reading this devotion today is actively persecuting the church, but I wonder how many of us (myself included) have ignored the nudge of God when He asks us to pray, give, support Him through caring about the persecution of Christians.
Jesus came to Paul in a bright light and explained that He is persecuted when His Christians are persecuted. He shows His love by nudging us even goading us into obedience. Let’s join our prayers in praying for the Christians in Iraq and all around the world who are being persecuted for their faith. Don’t kick against the goads; follow Jesus’ heart for the world.