2003-04-18 - It's a Good Thing, Really
Originally Published 1998-04-24
As some of you have read in one of my previous devotionals, I believe it is bad theology to say that bad things always happen - illnesses, financial problems, work difficulties etc. - because we have done something wrong. In fact, Jesus Himself said not only are we to expect rough times, but that we are "blessed" if we have them! Accoring to Vine's Expository Dictionary, this says we are "happy" if these things happen to us.
(Mat 5:11 NIV) Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
He also informed us that sometimes things happen in order to bring glory to God. Sometimes they happen simply because we live in a fallen world, and bad things are going to happen until Christ returns.
We in America don't face the physical torture, imprisonment etc. that some do, who live in countries who are hostile to Christianity. Yet we do sometimes come up against people who give us a hard time simply because of our faith. And you are in good company if this is happening to you; remember, our Lord Himself was ridiculed by both people and Satan. Now this does NOT mean those times when we are insulted because in the name of faith, we have judgmental attitudes, or push Jesus down people's throats! WE bear that responsibility! This means when due to no fault of our own, we have troubles simply because we belong to Christ. I myself recently have bore the brunt of such a situation. There is someone I am occasionally in contact with, who takes glee in deriding my faith. God has given me the grace to not strike back, but I will tell you this - when it is happening, I sure don't think of those as happy conversations; I considered them stressful ones! But according to our Lord, these are part and parcel of being a Christ-follower.
And besides, if people say bad things happen only because of sin, they are being blasphemous, since our Lord suffered ridicule, lack of support and a torturous death. The Apostle Paul, arguably the greatest Christian who ever lived, is another example. Shipwrecks, beatings, jailings and harassment didn't happen because he was out of God's will; in fact, the truth was quite the opposite.
So, what are we to do when people judge us because bad things happen, or when they cause our difficulties? Snidely answer them with a zinging comeback? Nope. Judge them? Nope. Gossip about them? Nope. We are to love them. We are to pray for them. We are to reflect Christ to them with our words and behavior.
(Mat 5:44-45 NIV) But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Not easy, but if you do this, you will find it brings the peace that you have done what is right, that you have done what pleases Christ.
Dear Father, please help us to see insults and persecutions through Your eyes. Use our difficulties for Your purposes and glory. In Jesus' name amen.