Since I began blogging, I’ve learned to get a “thick skin” because putting your ideas, opinions and convictions out there for anyone to see comes with a price—persecution. (Ouch. They didn’t tell me that as an undergrad.) But Jesus did tell us this, and He suffered persecution up close and personal. Jesus stood up against the cultural norms of His day, and refuted many strongly held assumptions. Many didn’t like it, and we know what ends up happening to Christ.
I’m far away from the kind of persecution Jesus endured, to be sure. I have experienced some uncomfortable dialogue, like hate speech and foul language aimed straight at me. I didn’t enjoy that for one moment! Now I realize why many Christians stay away from confrontations because of it – it’s no fun! Here’s the deal, though… I am not called to have fun, am I? Sure, we can enjoy ourselves like Jesus did when He turned the water into wine at a wedding, but that is not our main goal. As a follower of Christ, He commands me to go out and share the gospel to others. Some will gladly hear it, and others will get angry at me for having said such things as “there is only ONE way to God, and that is through Jesus Christ.” “You need to repent, and accept Christ’s sacrifice for the forgiveness of your sins.”
In our culture today, the word “sin” is not tolerated. People don’t like to associate themselves as being a sinner because that goes against the cultural emphasis on self-esteem. We’re bent on making everyone feel good about themselves no matter what! That is one of the highest goals, besides the right to pursue your ‘own’ happiness (very self-focused).
Our culture also doesn’t like it when you define truth. Today’s motto is “all truth is relative,” which means whatever is right for you, may not be right for me, and that is okay. You stay in your court with what you believe, and I’ll stay in mine. Yet, whose rules do you follow? If you’re following the rules of modern culture, this is what I’ve observed are the “New Cultural Commandments”:
- Thou shalt value tolerance at all costs.
- Thou shalt not differentiate against anyone for anything.
- Thou shalt not speak against others who do things that discriminate against Christians.
- Thou shalt not tolerate anyone who does not tolerant anyone.
- Thou shalt not hold opinions contrary to the value of almighty tolerance.
- There is no truth, and that is the truth!
- If you express opinions contrary to these cultural commandments, you will be discriminated against.
- Thou shall ‘love’ whom you wish, as you wish, when you wish, with whomever you wish.
- Thou shalt not condemn free speech, unless you speak against these commandments.
- You have the right to pursue individual happiness regardless of the effect on society.
In the New Testament, Christ takes the law in the Old Testament and simplifies it to these two: Love God and love others. In loving others, does that mean accepting every thing they do? In the Beatitudes, or the Sermon on the Mount, Christ preached a sermon that helps us understand the Kingdom of God, and how we are to live now (Matt. 5:3-11):
• Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
• Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
• Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
• Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
• Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
• Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
• Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons (and daughters) of God.
• Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
• 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.
As Jesus said, we need to seek righteousness with mercy, truth with peace, and understand persecution comes with it. Be as kind as you can, but recognize that standing up for truth will cost you. Jesus promises, however, it will be worth the cost in the end.