Friday, 10 June 2016

How to act in the face of hate, fear, and opposition - Psalm 119.23, 161

Though princes sit against me, Your servant will think about Your statutes… Princes have persecuted me without cause, but my heart fears only Your word.   119.23, 161

Taking a stand on Biblical truth has always been unpopular with the powers of the world around us.  At times things have been worse than others.  In England we have a rich heritage of persecuting the righteous who believed in the words and statues of God.  From the killing of St. Alban to the persecution of John Wycliffe (and his later exhumation, trial, and burning of bones to ash).  The foundation of what we know today as the Church of England is written in the blood of hundreds martyrs including Thomas Cranmer, Nicholas Ridley, Hugh Latimer and John Hooper.  Across the world today Christians are the single most persecuted and martyred group of people.  Here in England we may not face being shot or crucified for saying that Jesus is the Son of God and the Bible tells us God’s eternal truths - but we certainly face opposition.

The gospel, as Paul tells us, is by its very nature offensive.  People don’t like it when you try to tell them that they are sinners facing the wrath of a Holy God and they need to believe in Jesus and repent.  People go crazy when you tell them that what the Bible says happened actually did happen in history.  People take you to court and you lose your job when you stand up and act with integrity on issues of morality.  Whether it is abortion, divorce, euthanasia, or issues of sexuality, the clear teaching of the church is unpopular.  Whether it is teaching about  wealth and greed or the error of Eastern Spirituality you can expect opposition.

This should not surprise or phase us!  

Jesus told His disciples “you will be hated by everyone because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be delivered” (Matthew 10.22).   

Read that sentence again.  

"You will be hated by everyone"

Let that really sink in.

"You will 
be hated 
by everyone"
Jesus didn’t tell his followers they ‘might’ get sent to court or be judged by others but rather told them what to do ‘when’ it inevitably happens: “whenever they bring you before synagogues and rulers and authorities, don't worry about how you should defend yourselves or what you should say. ” (Luke 12.11).   

If you are not facing opposition or questioning or some form of persecution for being a Christian then the chances are you are doing Christianity wrong!

Whenever we face opposition, and it is often powerful and emotional opposition, we must do two things:  

1) First of all we must think about what God has told us because only His words are truth for all time and His promises form the rock on which we stand.  

2) Secondly, we should remember to fear only God and not what other humans may say or do.  Sticks and stones may break your bones and words may hurt you but what does that matter when eternal life and a resurrection body are yours!?  Jesus told His followers “Don’t fear those who are able to kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is about to destroy both soul and body in Hell” (Matthew 10.28).  

The Bible repeatedly tells us that "the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom" - let us be wise by accepting what God tells us and not fearing what others may think or say or do.

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