Recently, I received an angry, vulgar message from a stranger. After reading his curse words and accusations about how I was brain-washing and ruining the lives of children by encouraging mothers to raise them to know Jesus, I stopped to praise God for this person. Why? Because it gave me the opportunity to see his pain and allowed me to stop and pray for him right then. I don't know his story, but God does. Our Heavenly Father knows every heartache and joy this person has ever had. He knows what emotions drive the cruel words and the reason he feels them. God knows whether or not this person will ever be saved by the sacrifice Jesus made. My prayer is that he will.
Luke 6:22 says, "Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man." Yesterday this stranger unknowingly sent me a blessing. Because I am faithfully allowing truth, hope, and encouragement to flow from my heart and words, and I am attempting to obediently follow where I believe God is calling, this person saw my message and hated me for it. What I shared went against what many people in this world choose to believe. More and more people are speaking out against godly values and morals, while less and less speak the truths of and for Jesus.
How long will Christians keep silent?
God is calling me to allow Him to work through me even more. If you are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, then He is calling you to more, too. If others use the freedom to speak against Jesus, we must exercise our right to speak for Him. Christians have been complacent; we've been lazy. We are at risk of losing our right to worship, freely express beliefs, and follow the Lord without fear of retaliation. Why is it allowable for non-believers to spew hate and lies, but they cannot tolerate the freedom for believers to say or show what we desire? I am not angry at those who make the choice to reject Jesus. That decision is strictly between them and God. However, Christians deserve the same treatment to exercise our first amendment right.
It is time for each of us to search our heart. What do we truly believe? Who do we follow? Would we rather chase Jesus or the ungodly culture we live in? Our children and unbelievers are watching us. What will they see? If we do not stand for Jesus, we stand against Him. Have you obediently followed Christ with a passion? Did you know the word "passion" isn't just a strong feeling or desire? The Latin meaning of "passion" is to suffer, bear, or endure. Exactly the sacrifice Jesus made for us. Why aren't most Christians living with a passion to obediently follow and share Him, despite the cost?
Joshua 24:14-15 says, "Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; cast aside the gods your fathers served beyond the Euphrates and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if it is unpleasing in your sight to serve the Lord, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”
It's okay to be criticized.
“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me." John 15:18-21
When people make accusations, spread lies, misunderstand us, spew hateful words at us, or attack us, we must remember that Jesus understands. He has already faced anything we can receive. Do we want to be attacked? Of course not! Yet, we know that the boldness we show for Christ will attract the cruel and reckless comments and actions of those against Jesus. What peace and joy that truth provides!
What we allow God to produce through us is for Him.
John 15:1-11 says, "I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!"
As we mature our walk with God through Jesus, we should never want to remain the same person from day to day. I urge you to view your life with eternal perspective. What are your end goals? What are your beliefs about eternity? If you rest in assurance through Jesus, your goal should be to glorify and honor God more each day. You should expect to awaken a new person every morning because your faith and obedience has shifted your heart and mindset closer to His in every way. Allow God to release a passion inside you for Him. Seek Him and a deeper walk and relationship. He is faithful to give new life, hope, and joy to those who desire Him, no matter the circumstances we endure, as we allow Him to direct and carry us.
Romans 15:13 says, "I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit."
Let us purpose to live by the passionate power of the Holy Spirit alive inside us!
Galatians 5:22-25 offers this promise and command, "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and
self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives."
Allow Him to shine through you more clearly each day as you strive to allow Him to mold and shape you into a new creation moment by moment. May your life never be the same as it was yesterday because you are not the person you were before. May Christ be more alive in you! That is my prayer for me, as well. Hallelujah!