Hunkered Down Devotion

John 12:42-43 (Voice)
42 Yet many leaders secretly believed in Him but would not declare their faith because the Pharisees continued their threats to expel all His followers from the synagogue; 43 here’s why: they loved to please men more than they desired to glorify God.

We don’t like to talk about it much, for obvious reasons, but Jesus – and much of scripture – is pretty clear on this point: following Jesus, living into our call as the people of God, will, at one point or another lead to difficulty and even persecution.  

It’s right there in the Beatitudes: ‘And blessed are you, blessed are all of you, when people persecute you or denigrate you or despise you or tell lies about you on My account. 12 But when this happens, rejoice. Be glad. Remember that God’s prophets have been persecuted in the past. And know that in heaven, you have a great reward’ (Matthew 5:11-12)  

Maybe because it comes at the very end of that list, and it doesn’t fit in quite as nicely with all the others, we just don’t deal with it.  But Jesus is clear, notice it’s not ‘if this happens’, but ‘when this happens’.  From Jesus’ perspective, this persecution is a foregone conclusion.  

When we think of persecution we might think of the Roman empire’s treatment of Christians, or the stories from the book of Acts about the first martyrs of the faith.  And so, it may be surprising to note that it is widely believed that the 20th century saw more martyrs for Christianity (those that died for or because of their faith in Jesus) than all the previous nineteen centuries combined.

Thankfully for most, if not all, of us living in 21st century America, the ‘persecution’ we face is nothing quite so dangerous or ominous.  For most of us, in fact, what we face isn’t so much persecution, but the fear of losing status or acceptance.  

The plain truth is that if we are faithfully following in the way of Jesus Christ, there will be times – and likely many times – where the path we are called to walk is in direct opposition to that of our culture, to that of our friends, to that of those whose love and acceptance we long for.

This means that each of us has a choice.  In those moments, we must choose whom we will serve and whom or what we love best and most.  When faced with the choice between following Jesus, and receiving persecution (in the form of social exclusion, ridicule, or whatever) or subverting our beliefs to our culture so that we can ‘fit in’ and gain acceptance, which will we choose?  

These situations present us with a clear, simple, piercing question: what do we love more, pleasing each other, fitting in, and being accepted or honoring, worshiping and following God with our lives?    What will your answer be?  
 
Sharing God’s Love, 
Chip  

Prayer:   Lord, we love you and we want to love and serve you best.  Help us choose you with our hearts and lives. Amen.

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