Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Avengers!

                Reading and preparing for our study in John this week, has brought up some memories of a time when I worked in the world. I used to work at a management level, upper management to be exact. Being a Christian in this world is hard, especially when you are faced with corrupt business practices and others who seek only to get ahead. It was a daily battle for me to stand my ground and be the woman God wanted me to be. There were times when I succeeded and times when I failed miserably, but one thing was constant- I was hated by many.

                There was this one co-worker of mine, that no matter what I did, no matter what I said, she despised me and did everything she could to undermine me and my authority within the company. The more I tried to love her, the more she rejected me. The more I tried to help her and be there for her, the more she fought me and made up all kinds of things against me. It got to the point where I just wanted to give up, I just wanted to quit and be done with the world all together. But Jesus tells us that the world will hate us and it is going to hate us because it hated Him.
                “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:18-19
                My co-worker hated me because she rejected Christ. Because I am a Christian and I follow Jesus, she was faced with the decision to follow Him for herself. It was her rejection of Christ that caused opposition and unnecessary hatred for me, not her rejection of me as a person. It wasn’t personal with me, it was personal with Christ. The world loves its own. They love the ones who follow after the lusts and desires that are set forth for us to fill our wants upon. But Jesus tells us that we are not of this world, in fact, we have been born again- we have been transferred from darkness into light. We are no longer of this world- we are still in it, but we are no longer a part of its lusts, desires, sins and death. We now walk in light, and in the world there is only darkness.
                I sometimes wonder if we as Christians realize this fact. I sometimes wonder if we understand the meaning behind the words that Jesus speaks to us in John 15:18. He said that the world will hate us. They will seek to destroy us, not because of who we are, but because we are in Him. The world wants us to die; they want everything that has to do with Jesus Christ to be destroyed. The enemy, our enemy wants Christians to become extinct, and he uses the world to make that happen. If the world loves you, then we need to stop and examine our hearts before Jesus. Because Jesus clearly says that the world will hate us.
            
    What is the world? The world is anyone and anything that does not know nor accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. The world is the media, Hollywood, the system of laws that man has created and it can even be your family. Anyone who does not follow Jesus is the world. So why then are we so taken back when the world comes against Christians? And, why do we try to defend Christianity to the world? Does God need us to defend Him? Does God need us to stand at the steps of the White House and demand that we get the same respect that others get? What if all that is happening to us as Christians is supposed to be happening? What if instead of fighting against the wrongs this world passes upon us, we instead rejoiced in them?
                That is what Peter tells us to do. He states that we should “rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy, if you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” 1 Peter 4:13-14. If the world hates us, then instead of fighting back and fighting for our rights, maybe we should be rejoicing.
                Now, I am not saying that we should just lie down and be a doormat for the world to walk on. But, I am asking the question- is fighting really the answer? I see Christians posting on Facebook about the injustices in the world against Christians, and the call to all Christians to stand and fight. But what if instead of fighting, we started living- living as Christians to the lost and broken world before us? What if instead of getting our hackles in a rise, we instead lived louder for Christ? The world, and all it stands for is against us, no matter what we say or do. Jesus tells us that this is going to happen. And He also tells us to keep walking, and keep following Him through it all.
             
 If anyone had a right to defend Himself, it was Jesus Christ. But what did He do instead? He stood before the world and was silent. He took the opposition, the hatred, the beatings and the sufferings because He knew they were all working a greater glory. My co-worker made me so mad sometimes, and there were times when I wanted to defend myself and my actions to our boss, but instead, the Lord would have me be silent, and His words were always, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” (Romans 12:19) We are not to respond to the hatred this world has for Christians with more hate, or even in defensiveness. We are to respond in love and in grace, allowing the Lord God to work in us and through us as He reconciles the world to Himself. We are to respond with more Jesus, and less us.
                Our fighting, our standing for our rights (in my opinion) makes us more like the world and less like Christ. And we are to be Christ-like to the world before us, are we not? When my husband was an unbeliever there were times where he would say and do things that would hurt me, that would cut my heart, and I would want to defend Christ as well as defend Christ in me. But God did not call me to defend myself; instead He calls me to rely on Him, to trust Him and to let Him repay those who persecute us, who hate us, who despise us for His Name’s Sake. If vengeance is the Lord’s, then who are we to try to avenge ourselves?

                The world will hate you, my brothers and sisters. They will hate everything about you, no matter what you say or do- but it is not you they hate, it is Christ in you. So instead of looking to defend, rejoice! For if they persecute you and hate you, then they see Christ in you, and that is cause for rejoicing. If we suffer for His sake, if we are reproached for His sake, then blessed are we. “Yet, if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.” (1 Peter 4:16) Rejoice Christian when you are persecuted! Because it means Christ is in you and working through you to His glory! Amen and Amen.