Acts 28:22 “But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect.”
As I read this it struck me that Christians in America are beginning to taste this sort of thing for the first time ever. When many of the early settlers were religious refugees, and the nation itself was founded on Biblical principles, devout Christians were certainly held in the highest regard. How things can change in 250 years! Today, you can hardly look at “mainstream media” without seeing and or hearing some slur against Christians. They are called intolerant, homophobic, transphobic, and a list of other pejoratives. Paul and his compatriots would say, “Welcome to the club!” Like some of the people who have recently been sanctioned by Iran for standing firmly against that regime, we should take such insults as a badge of honor! The natural human impulse is to want to be liked by everyone, but we’ve got to realize that’s never going to happen. We’ve got to choose whose approval we want, that of the world, or of our Creator? Just before His trial and crucifixion, Jesus told His disciples, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” (John 15:18) He then went on and expanded some of what that would mean. We are not to offend needlessly, but we are never to abandon the things of God in order to be accepted by the world. It simply doesn’t work! Remember, the devil hates us by definition, and those who are deceived by him are going to do the same. We would do well to study the lives of the saints (and by that I mean all true believers) who have gone before us and, to use a colloquialism, “quitcher bitchin.” Our lives should be such that those who know us consider us loving, honest, and dependable, and those who are in rebellion against God hate the very ground we walk on.
I have always tended to be an independent sort, at least pretending that I didn’t care what people said about me, but I’ll have to confess it was pretense indeed. I too like for people to like me! I am very thankful to have grown up with the example of my parents, who were true to God first and foremost, and as a result loved those around them. Any time I realize I am being less than loving, I need to realize that means I’m not being fully true to God! I am fairly well known in this city, having lived here for 40 years and being rather noticeable as a Caucasian in Japan, and I think my reputation is generally good. However, not many people have been drawn to emulate me in following Christ, and that means I’ve got plenty of room to grow. It’s telling that I am most “spoken against,” as in this verse, on social media from the US, and sadly, some of that is from confessed Christians. I’ve got to remember not to be defensive, but always speak (and write) the truth in love, leaving my reputation and people’s reactions in God’s hands. If I am disliked or even hated, I’m in good company!
Father, thank You for this reminder. So much is going on, and it’s hard to stay focused on the immediate task at hand, all the while not losing sight of the ultimate goal. Thank You for Cathy asking me to translate What A Day That Will Be, by Ben Speer, and enabling me to do so. Help me remember the truth in that song, and rest, relax, and rejoice in You whatever is going on, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!