There is a story of a ten-year-old boy who came home from school one day. His mom had some good news for him – his dad was out of jail and would be coming to live with them soon. Now for many children, this was good news indeed. Children are very forgiving, all they really want is the love of a father and mother. Even when parents are dysfunctional, a child will cling to even one kind word or action from their father like it was manna from heaven. This particular boy was different. After listening to what his mom had to say, he simply smiled and said, “OK mom…”. Yet deep down all his fears, disappointment, and feelings of being ashamed began to well up inside him. What would his new friends at school think of his dad? Would his dad continue to act out in a drunken stupor and often violent manner once again? Would he commit another crime? Would his mom and him have to move again to another town or city to get a fresh start? After all, he had discovered at an early age what it was like to be ridiculed and ostracized because of the wrongful actions of his father. He knew how cruel people can be when you are associated with someone that the community shuns. The good news was not good news at all.
I think that living openly as a follower of Christ can feel like that sometimes. The gospel or good news and our identification with Jesus Christ often brings ridicule, ostracism, and pseudo feelings of shame. We are falsely accused by those people that do not understand or those that merely hate us for what we stand for. To be slandered or accused of wrong doing, when one is fully innocent, can bring all kinds of mixed emotions. We do what is right only for our words or our actions to be twisted and distorted by the EVIL ONE in such a way that we appear as the wrong doer. Sound familiar? This is simply part and parcel of what it means to be a fully devoted follower of Christ. If they hated Him, they will surely hate us.
The Apostle Paul knew and understood what it was like to be hated and persecuted by evil men. That denial and hatred of the good news of Jesus Christ by Paul’s opposition would eventually lead to his death and martyrdom. Yet Paul, in the midst of violent opposition and persecution proclaimed,
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes – the Jew first and also the Gentile. Romans 1:16 NLT
Paul knew the personal cost of identifying with Jesus. He also knew the consequences of shrinking back and denying his master.
If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. Mark 8:38 NLT
This is where the rubber meets the road for Christians. To be a fully devoted follower of Christ will cost us everything, perhaps even our very lives. So don’t be ashamed, don’t be afraid – we are merely strangers passing through a foreign land. There is a better place for all those who trust in God’s saving grace.
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21 NIV
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