Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Rejoicing for Suffering

In Acts 5 we read about Peter and the other followers of Jesus as they preach boldly to all who will listen. And then, they are arrested. Not once, but twice in this chapter! And the high council orders them flogged and released.

We know about flogging don't we?

And what does the end of chapter 5 say? The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of Jesus. 

Earlier in this same chapter we read that the apostles say "We must obey God rather than human authority"

Here in America where we have freedom of religion, we don't have to fear arrest or abuse because of our faith in Jesus. We have no idea what it means to suffer for the gospel.  There are no laws that make me have to choose between obeying God or obeying human authority. 

Yet how often do I cave in to pressure from the world rather than what God's word directs? When I am shy --- or even -- truth be told-- embarrassed about praying over my meal in a restaurant or worry that my conversation with another believer may be loud enough that someone might overhear and be offended? I have no need to fear being a Christian yet how often do I fear rejection from others because of my beliefs? Is it not better to be rejected by the world then face rejection from God?

I want to be the kind of follower who doesn't shirk from the call of bearing witness to God's name. I want to be the kind of follower who is ready to suffer for the name of Jesus.

I heard a story last night from someone who had just returned from Honduras. She shared about these young men (14-15 years old) who are being held in a boys detention center. They have accepted Christ and are firm in their decision to be a Jesus follower. And they know that when they leave the detention center they will face beatings and even death, from the gang members they once were a part of, because of their new found faith. And asked if they are afraid, these young boys say no, because if I am beaten or shot and I survive it means I can tell others how Jesus saved me. And if I die, then I go to be with my best friend Jesus.

These young men are not shaken in their faith. They are standing firm. I want to be that kind of follower of Jesus.

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