What happens when extreme dedication combines with total commitment and absolute certainty that you are doing what God wants you to do? Either great good or great evil is what happens. If you have understood God correctly great good may come from such dedication, commitment and certainty, but if you have not understood God correctly? You get stoning Stephen to death, you get the World Trade Center, you get firehoses and attack dogs in Selma, Alabama or burning buildings and smashed in doors in Ferguson, Missouri—and it will happen anywhere in the world where people forget to measure the goodness of their methods, the justness of their actions and presume their “good intentions” guarantee good actions. Good intentions do not make bad actions acceptable.
Saul led the mob out to kill Stephen, and it only got worse from there.
And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
(Acts 8:1 ESV)
The church in Jerusalem was going great. They were having thousands of new believers join them. They were the talk of the city. The men Jesus had named apostles were telling the story of resurrection and life, they were talking about forgiveness of sins, God’s power was so active and visible that people were being healed of their illness, raised from the dead, crippled men got up and walked and only the power brokers were unhappy about it. And then Saul went on his crusade for God. Now people were being killed, getting arrested, being beaten and the church was scattered into the countryside of Judea and Samaria—except for the apostles—they stayed and kept telling people about Jesus. If we expect to have no opposition, to face no adversity, to be protected from inconvenience or hardship because we trust God and love Jesus, we need to reconsider that opinion. That isn’t what the Bible describes. The church was beaten, thrown in prison, killed and threatened with harm in those days, and the Bible clearly tells us that such things can and will happen on this earth; so if you are having a hard time because things don’t go well for you, people don’t always treat you right, be aware of the fact that this is nothing new and hold on. And in your response be careful to test your motives and your actions. Do not let your desire to honor God blind you to the reality of your deeds being good or evil!
Lord give us eyes to see through the confusion, and wisdom to acknowledge what goes on in our heart, that we may act justly and graciously and honor you with all we do.