Friday, December 5, 2008

What Does That Speak of Us?

How we want to be like Jesus!

We want his righteousness and his ability to please God. We want to live out his life and to always hold on to what is good. For some of us, we want him more than we want anything else - more than life itself, we desire him so. And so should it be.

But it is curious, that though it is clear the gospels teach that we are to live out his life, Jesus himself only mentioned the imitation of himself in one context: that of being persecuted by others.
Jesus said, “Remember the words I spoke to you : ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you, too. (John 15: 18-16:3)”

“If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household! (Matthew 10: 34-39)

To be like Jesus is to assuredly be persecuted like Jesus. To not be persecuteted is to fall short of the full call of Jesus and to be like the enemies of Jesus: “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their Fathers treated the false prophets. (Matthew 5: 11-12 & Luke 6:26)”

Even to attain godly character, the most sure way is to gain it through persecution. James says that perseverance of your faith comes only through trials (James 1: 2-4 & Romans 5: 3-5).

And Paul says that it is through the perseverance attained by suffering that we gain character like that of Jesus - and that it is through such character that we have hope in Christ!

It is not just an added benefit that we attain the glory of persecution and suffering - it is our very life! In fact, Paul said, “Anyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (II Timothy 3:12)”

If you live a life of the Spirit you will be rejected by mankind. If you live as Jesus lived, you will be insulted and mistreated. If you walk in the teaching of the apostles, you will be spurned and hated. If god truly resides in you, you will even be beaten, arrested, sentenced and killed (Mark 8: 31-38).

This is the meaning of the cross we must hear. This is a daily sacrifice for those who live in God.

The fact that we rarely experience persecution as a church displays our weakness. But the fact that we do everything in our power to turn aside and walk away from the slight persecutions God gives us - that we stand up in court demanding our rights as citizens for protection - when we ought to be standing in our protection God gave us... What does that speak of us?

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