Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Goads

The Goads


“And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” – Acts 9:5

C.S. Lewis once said There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, "All right, then, have it your way." Most of us have been both kinds at some point in our lives.  We tend to think we have it all under control, have the right plan, and choose to resist change regardless of who offers it. Saul was one of those.
Being a good Roman soldier he spent most of his time hunting, torturing and killing Christians.  We meet him in Acts 9 as Jesus finally has had enough.  It says Saul was “still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord” and was on his way to the high priest to get letters from him from Damascus so that he would know those that followed Christ.  But Jesus had another plan.
There on the road to Damascus, Saul quite literally met his maker!  Light shined all around him, and the presence of Jesus had to have been overwhelming.  He fell to the ground and he heard the voice of Jesus says “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

Saul had spent enough time with Christians that were willing to be martyrs that even he knew of Jesus.  He answered back with respect and said “Who are You, Lord?”  It was a question, but also a confession. Then Jesus answered him saying “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.  It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” 
A goad is an iron rod used for prodding cattle to go in the way they should.  Herders would use it to prevent the cattle from going to places that would cause them harm, such as holes or cliffs.  Resistance against it is called “kicking against the goads”. 

Jesus, in His loving and patient way, had been prodding Saul with multiple goads, as the word is plural, and he had been resisting.  But when Jesus decided Saul would follow, He stopped him on the Damascus road and blinded him.  Saul spent three days in total darkness, having to be led where he went.  Acts 9:9 says that he didn’t eat or drink for three days. 
During the time that Jesus was goading Saul, many Christian brothers and sisters died at his hands.   Had Saul listened to Jesus’ prodding earlier, there could have been more churches started during the times of the early church.  But Saul chose to follow the leadership of men, the Roman government, rather than Jesus.

I find it compelling that Jesus doesn’t say to Saul “Why are you persecuting my brothers and sisters? Why are your persecuting the children of God?”  Instead he says to him “Why are you persecuting ME?” and later says “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”  Jesus takes our rebellion to following him personally and rightfully so.  If He is to be our Lord, then we are to be His servant and follow His command.
So why do we rebel?  If we confess Him as our Lord and Savior, why do we choose to do anything differently than He commands?  Is it not because we strongly believe that WE have a better way?  And how can we believe we are wiser than Jesus, who has infinite wisdom?  Do we not feel his goading through the Holy Spirit He has placed in us?  Does it not hurt us to kick against the goads?

We know every little of what Saul did with his life leading up to the point of persecuting Christians.  But after his encounter with Christ, we read of the great things he did.  The one may wrote 13 books of the New Testament, started churches, created disciples, and Acts 19:11 says that God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.” When Paul finally decided to follow Christ, God used him to do a great work for Him.  I wonder how great a work the world is missing while we’re kicking against the goads.
C.S. Lewis has another fitting quote.  He once said We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive. Whatever God has been prodding you to do, this is the best day to do it, and now is the best time to start.

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