Are we taking some hits in the name of our faith?
And yes. We’re talking about rocks.
No welts on our foreheads? No bruises on our arms or legs? Then it might be time to ask ourselves the question, “Why not?”
The Bible clearly teaches the Gospel is a message that will be received with disdain. Here are the words of Jesus:
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.
19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.
As it is, you do not belong to the world,
but I have chosen you out of the world.
That is why the world hates you.
– John 15:18-19
Some see the New Testament merely as a message of love and hope. Yes. Those are central themes. But within those divine pages are also strong challenges, calls to accountability and stern warnings which must be presented whole and in all its glory. We are commanded to hoist the full banner with courage and conviction, regardless of the flak we’ll receive.
We are to do it because we love God and his people and because we put all of our hope in the future despite the trials of today.
Can you agree today’s domesticated version of Christianity would be offensive to the founding fathers of our Church?
Have we forgotten Jesus was whipped, tormented and then hung on the cross? It’s believed all of the apostles but John died horrible deaths while standing strong in their faith. And John certainly didn’t get a break. Tradition says he survived being boiled alive in oil.
The Book of Acts tells of Stephen’s death. It was his fervent preaching of the gospel which incited the Sanhedrin and the crowd to stone him to death.
But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit,
looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God,
and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56
“Look,” he said, “I see heaven open
and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
– Acts 7:55
Although it was a horrible way to die, his martyrdom was one of the most pivotal events leading to the rapid spread of the early Church.
Today, there remain those throughout the world who are Stephen-like in their courage and faith as they risk their lives daily to bring light to the darkness.
But what about here in the United States where outside of our cozy Christian circles it’s considered poor taste to mix faith and friendship? Where we balk at the idea of raising the name of Jesus in our workplace and in our neighborhoods. Do we not live our lives like Peter when he denied friendship to Jesus three times before the rooster crowed?
Will Jesus one day speak to the church of America as he does to the church of Laodicea in the Book of Revelation?:
15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.
I wish you were either one or the other!
16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—
I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’
But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
– Rev 3:15-17
There is a reason why Paul counselled us to put on the full armor of God. It was with expectation that we would be on the battlefield.
But where are the stones in our life?
If there aren’t dings in our armor and we aren’t hearing the clanking sounds of rocks bouncing against the metal it’s probably because the enemy doesn’t see us as a real threat. We’re off the radar.
The Message Not The Messenger
The distortion of this command is that we ourselves become offensive. We judge others harshly and carry ourselves with an air of self-importance.
Through this, we fall prey to self-deception and it becomes all about the messenger, and the message is lost.
No. We are to present the Gospel with grace, patience and perseverance.
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those
who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
– Isa: 52:7
And although our feet may be beautiful and our manner may be gentle, we should expect to be ridiculed, belittled and outcast.
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
– 1 Corinthians 1:18
We may lose the respect of colleagues, our positions in society, sought after promotions, financial security, our reputation, friendships and even our safety may be at risk.
There will be bruises, welts…and yes, it will hurt.
But long forgotten will these casted stones be on that day of eternity when someone comes up to us and shares, “I’m here because of you.”
Looking for more Michael? You might also enjoy The Terrible Truth About Christians