As [Saul] was approaching Damascus on this mission [to arrest and kill Christians], a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?"
"Who are you, lord?" Saul asked.
And the voice replied, "I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!"
— Acts 9:3-5 NLT
Saul, whom we know better as Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, was intent on wreaking havoc among Christians during this part of his life. He did not yet realize two incredibly important truths:
- Jesus is the Messiah, the promised Savior, and Son of God.
- Jesus considers every one of his followers as a part of himself: They are his body and vitally connected to him, as indicated by his question to Saul, "Why are you persecuting me?"
As Saul came to believe in Christ, Jesus' answer when Saul asked "Who are you, lord?" on the road to Damascus changed everything for Saul. He came to faith and reoriented his passion from being against Jesus to sharing Jesus with others. Plus, the insight that the believers whom he was persecuting were one with Jesus prepared him to teach about the church being the body of Christ. Each person who is a follower of Christ is a part, a member, of Jesus' body (1 Corinthians 12:27). These Christians were not members of a club or organization. Each of them was organically and vitally connected to Jesus, as a body part with Jesus as the head of this body (Colossians 1:18). The words "I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!" never left Paul's heart. They humbled him, but they also helped him see how precious each follower of Jesus genuinely is!
O Father, forgive me when I write off those in my Christian family who irritate, wound, and disappointment me. Father, pour your love for my brothers and sisters into my heart through the Spirit.* Open my eyes to see how precious and vital they are to Jesus. Not only did he die to save them, but he made them a living part of his body. Give me patience, O LORD, so I love them as I should. In Jesus' name, I ask for this grace. Amen.