John 15:18-19 - “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.
If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
Over the past two months a situation has unfolded in my life, and I have become the focal point of a few people's anger, and hatred. The main reason being my faith in Jesus Christ. I was faced with the decision of 'taking a stand for my faith' or 'keeping the peace'. I found it really hard to know what to do as the bible mentions both as being positive things to do. So I had to ask myself a question Paul asks in Galatians 6:10 - Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. It made me realize that in this case, keeping the peace would be simply to please those around me, and it would be at the expense of being silent about my faith...which is one thing I swore I would never do - so I took a stand. All of a sudden, I was hated, by someone I had stepped out for, and reached out to...I always wondered how I would react in this kind of situation, and I really liked to think that I would react in love, courage and strength! But I disappointed myself when I only responded in hurt, and anger. I kept asking 'Lord, what have I done wrong? I have shown love, I have tried to do right, I am not lashing out - what more can I do?' - And the first thing that sprung to mind was the verse at the top of this post. John 15:18 - Its one I memorized 2 years ago, and I dont often think about it if I am honest. But all of a sudden, its become my constant comfort throughout this situation. The 'world' hates me.... but it hated Jesus first. My Jesus, my perfect saviour, the man who laid down His life for me. Perfect in kindness, perfect in humility, perfect in love - this wonderful man was HATED. And yet, I seem surprised when I am?? Me, this imperfect, selfish, impatient human being! How much easier is it to hate me...than Jesus. When I think about the pain and hurt I have felt in this situation (not only for myself, but also for another person it has affected) - all I can think about is how much pain and anguish my Jesus must have felt as he lay nailed to that cross for me, all the while knowing that I would reject Him time and time again. Knowing that I would hurt Him and turn away from Him several times before I began to understand what He had done for me. My hurt, my pain - its nothing in comparison. He knew the pain He was going to experience, He knew I would reject Him, but he still walked into that pain for me! And for that very reason, I should be willing to walk into pain for Him. Not fearing the consequence, rejection, pain and hurt that lies ahead of me...but instead, focussing on the joy that awaits me when I know I took a stand for the one thing I hold dearest - My faith!
I was determined to hold firm to this decision, and it is becoming increasingly difficult, as the things being said about me come back to me, as I learn that as I try to show love it is being returned by lies being said about my faith...and the more my words are twisted. It is such a frustrating situation to be in, why is it the nicer I attempt to be the harder this situation becomes? Then another verse came to mind - Proverbs 25:21-22 - If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat, if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you. Makes perfect sense! I was encouraged to be reminded that sometimes having the right attitude will not fix someone elses attitude, as a matter of fact..sometimes it will make others angrier! As of today, the lies and malicious talk continue to fly around...and the situation is ongoing. I am praying for a fresh dose of humility daily...praying that I will continue to hold my tongue, and take this for my faith. I pray daily that God will help me know how to respond to the lies and hurtful comments - and as always, God is faithful...I smiled when I read today's verses in my daily reading:
Matt 5:11-12 - Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
1 Peter 2:15-16 - For it is Gods will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover up for evil, live as Gods slaves.
Anyhow, I just wanted to encourage you all - that when you are being targeted because of your faith, even in a small way - to keep running to God to restore your strength, and to daily try and focus on him, and not get carried away with the pettiness and malicious talk. I want to encourage you to set yourself apart from the world and never compromise your faith. It will hurt, but its nothing in comparison to the hurt God felt for us. I also want you to praise God when you are persecuted in small ways, praise Him and thank Him that you are not in a situation of persecution as dangerous as alot of christians around the world. Also, amidst your hurtful situation, maybe you are losing friendships, or family relationships over your faith, or your name is being dragged through the ground, just remember in prayer, those whose lives are at risk for the same faith. Pray for their hurt...as they watch each other be killed, or tortured. A little perspective has helped me in my situation so much!