Persecution: He Calls You Blessed Walking the walk and talking the talk of your Christian faith By Debra Torres
The profanity came out of Claire’s* mouth hard and fast that day in our high school locker room.
I was a new Christian then, a wannabe athlete and mediocre at best on our high school swim team.
I was a bit awkward and self-conscience, but I had a light growing inside me that was beginning to show through the cracks in my reserved personality.
Claire was a good swimmer, tall, blue-eyed and confident with the boys. But she had a mouth that could beat any sailor, and she especially favored bashing God’s name.
And that day in the locker room, I had had enough.
“Stop saying that,” I said, challenging her while she and her friend Beth laughed and carried on about something. When Claire asked why, I told her that God didn’t like it.
Now Claire didn’t seem to have a problem with my feeble attempt to stand up for God. But Beth, well she was a different story. Beth had been my friend at one time, but I think my growing, outspoken faith had hit a nerve with her.
And she let me know it by the way she treated me.
I had forgotten all about that episode with Claire and Beth until last Sunday in church when our pastor brought up the last beatitude in a sermon series he had been delivering: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me” Matthew 5:11.
Now I know that my efforts might not have won any medals in the evangelism category. Many have valiantly and sometimes painfully stood up for their faith in God.
But I think for me, the scene above was a good thing, the sign of a backbone starting to grow.
In his sermon, our pastor spoke about a fellow student he had met in a class that studied Islam. The man, my pastor said, had preached Christianity in a Muslim country and had paid dearly for his outspokenness. One day, he showed the class the scars up and down his arms that his captors had put there with forks, trying to get him to stop.
The scene makes be cringe, but if we believe Christ’s words, we know that the man has an incredible reward waiting for him and has reason to rejoice.
It’s interesting in this country how Christians are being “shushed” isn’t it? Often, I think we’re tempted to “let our light shine” through our deeds rather than communicate the gospel verbally.
My friend Angela worked one summer at a hot dog stand at the beach. I was proud of Angela, a strong Christian, for teaming up with the other employees at the stand and thought it would provide some great witnessing opportunities for her. But she was going through a tough time then, and when I brought up the subject, she told me that she was just hoping that her faith showed through her work ethic.
Hmmm. We can walk the walk, but we need to talk the talk as well don’t we?
If you’re like me, you know this isn’t always so easy. “They’ll see it by how kind I am,” I sometimes think, “or how I paid attention to that detail.”
But that’s not good enough. In Romans 10:14 (see below) it says, “how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”
“We have to speak it, and yet our culture says you can be a Christian, just keep your mouth shut,” our pastor said.
“If you want to enter the world of persecution, start talking Christ and the cross.”
And who likes that word “persecution” anyway? According to Dictionary.com persecute means “to pursue with harassing or oppressive treatment, especially because of religion, race, or beliefs; harass persistently.”
Yikes! I’d be comfortable just “smiling the love of Jesus” at people.
Yet we don’t have to look far in scripture, however, to find out how happy it makes God when we share his word with others. Right after telling us that blessed are those persecuted for their faith, Jesus says: “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” Matthew 5:12.
Sharing our faith with others is tough and it does require a strong backbone.
Jesus gives us a clear heads up that it won’t be easy. But one thing will be sure.
We will be blessed.
*Claire and Beth's names have been changed to protect their privacy.
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
Salt and Light
13 “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
14-16 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.