John 15:20 “Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.”
Jesus said this sort of thing more than once, even as He indicates here. When we think back over Jesus’ ministry, these words might not be very comforting! Recognizing that you are a representative of Jesus Christ isn’t hubris, it’s scary. It’s also enormously challenging and satisfying. However, it is certainly not easy, when viewed from the human perspective. The early disciples experienced this certainly, performing miracles but also being persecuted and eventually martyred. Being killed because you followed Christ was so common that they referred to it as “being a witness” – and that’s where we get our word, martyr; all it is is Greek for witness. One of the men we refer to as the Early Church Fathers was called Justin Martyr. All that meant was “Justin the Witness,” though he eventually was killed for his faith. We get scared of witnessing simply from the standpoint of public speaking, but in the 1st Century – and in many parts of the world even today – it meant risking your life. The point is, our commitment to Jesus as Lord needs to be that strong. The early believers experienced such victories because the were willing to give their lives for the sake of the eternal life they had received in Christ. Persecution really sharpens our faith, forcing us to decide what is real and what is an illusion. The devil is a master of illusions and lies, so we need to lay firm hold on what is real and true, that is, Jesus Christ Himself.
I preach this to others, but I’ve got plenty of room to grow in it myself. I have experienced very little actual persecution, which makes me wonder how true I am being to my Lord. I have not been as bold a witness verbally as I might have been, largely from a fear of rejection. How foolish! I want the victories, but I’ll never get them by being politically correct. I do not enjoy confrontation, but there is no conquest without conflict, so I need to get over it. I am not to offend needlessly, but I must not let a fear of rejection keep me from proclaiming the truth of salvation in Christ alone.
Father, I’m not sure what You’re saying to me by reminding me of this at this point. The Japanese so fear exclusion from the group, and that is a major inhibitor to their witnessing. I guess I’m pretty Japanese! I pray that I would not fear people’s reactions, but would have Your wisdom and anointing to draw the believers into active discipleship, with all that means, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!