Friday, July 06, 2007

Standing Ovation

Well, we’re over halfway through the year and it’s been sort of a weird one for me. I mean, mostly it’s been awesome, but there has been this one weird thing that happened that keeps coming up… Back in February I stood up for something and defended the Scriptures in a private conversation with a friend and when we were done talking, I sort of thought everything was cool and the issue was over, but it wasn’t. Since that time the issue has been growing and spreading and every now and then it comes up to haunt me. Now, it’s not that I’m undergoing terrible persecution or anything like that, but it has been hard.

The friend I spoke with doesn’t want to be friends anymore and I keep finding out that people are talking about me and saying all sorts of untrue and hurtful things. As a result, I can’t really reach out to a whole group of people who are connected with this one person. Every time I think the issue is over, I find out in some way that it is spreading again to more and more people. Now it is even affecting the reputation of other ministries I work with. I know that I have brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world and throughout the ages who have dealt with much worse than slander, gossip and a tainted reputation, but I suppose this is how it starts… you lovingly testify to the hope you have in Christ and you get anger in return.

I’ve been reading the book of Acts lately and one of the things that absolutely jumps off the page in Acts is how much people got into trouble for believing in Jesus and talking about it. Christians were talked about, hunted, arrested, beaten up, stoned and killed. They reached out in love and were answered with uncontrolled rage, but they never stopped testifying about Jesus. Peter actually said that he had no choice… he couldn’t stop talking about the things he had seen and heard. In gentleness and love, but with undaunted courage and strength those guys stood up for Jesus, and many times they stood up alone.

When you stand up for Him, a lot of times you’ll look around and find you’re the only one standing… well, sort of. See, another thing I’ve noticed lately in the book of Acts is the way Jesus shows up when those testifying for Him are in the most trouble. And not only does He show up, but He shows up standing! When Stephen was being murdered by the Sanhedrin he looked into the sky and said, “Look! I see heaven opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” Usually Jesus is sitting there, but for Stephen, He stood up. In another place Paul was in a holding cell in Jerusalem because he was about to be ripped apart in a riot caused by his testimony. Luke says, “The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

So far no one has thrown rocks at my face or thrown me in jail for the stand I have taken with Christ, but I do know what it feels like to be lied about and hated by people I love because I have testified about Him… and now I know that no matter what happens, I don’t stand alone because when I stand up for Him, I believe He stands up for me too.

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