In a Sunday School class once, a healthy discussion of how ‘different’ we Christians needed to be sprung up. Not one of us wanted to be beating folks over the head with the Bible, but surely there was more to living a Christ-like life than just hoping others outside the faith would notice how good we were being. We all had known some pagans who led morally exemplary lives by the World’s standards. And likewise, I thought to myself, my life viewed by others might not demonstrate Christ to the world.
One person in the group said, “We should use Christ as our example and he never offended anyone.” Several heads nodded. Then a soft male voice broke in to our shared agreement.
“Well, He offended someone, because He ended up on a cross.”
That factual statement turned the discussion and though I cannot speak for the others it has stayed with me since.
Turning to the gospels, looking at the prophets before Jesus, I find a pattern of living that doesn’t quite fit in with the culture, a manner of speaking the word of God so others are engaged, a heart that really cares and wants to prevent the World from “going to hell in a hand basket.” I sometimes forget that while Jesus spoke his most condemning words toward the self righteous, the leaders of the religious order, HE did it so that they would turn and be saved.
And we know that at least three Pharisees were: Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and Saul of Tarsus.
Hard as insult, persecution, and lies aimed at me are when they come because of my Christianity, because of Christ, I am blessed. I don’t need to purposefully seek to OFFEND, in fact, if I set out to offend then I am really off base. Nevertheless, I must be prepared to live and speak from the heart of Grace as one beggar offering another beggar a place to find bread.
I must see all insults to Christians everywhere as insults to Jesus and pray for Christians throughout the world. Hard as it is I must rejoice and be glad because great is their reward in heaven.
Lord Jesus, when we participate in your suffering because of our lives lived in your name, we are blessed. I give you thanks for this life of grace You have given. Amen