From the start, no one liked being told they weren’t good enough for God. Especially not the ones who were doing all they could to be good enough, and who felt very satisfied with the job they were doing.
The truth at the core of our faith is so offensive, the first Christians were threatened, cast out of their places of worship, bullied, pressured to be silent, exiled, arrested, imprisoned, tortured, stoned, and killed.
Early believers would never have tried to spread the gospel as a means of life improvement. They spread the truth at great cost because it is eternal truth.
For a brief heartbeat of history, one corner of the world became politer about rejecting the truth.
As laws, literacy, and the rights of individuals rose in modern times (thank you to the spread of the good news of Jesus Christ, there arose the thought that those who believed differently could reside next door to Christians in peace. For a few centuries, this thought made its home in Europe and America.
Recently, Bernie Sanders’ questioning of Russel Vought, made the offensive truth headline news. Well, parts of it, anyway – because that’s how this warfare thing works.
Make public only part of the truth. Allow time for only the first part of the question. Highlight the problem, and neglect the answer. Focus on the offense of sin, but absent Jesus from the discussion, so it’s an exercise in judgment and hopelessness.
Anyway, that’s what appeared in the headlines.
And those of us who enjoy being liked began to squirm in our cushioned pews.
There are days, to my shame, that I believe the whiteness factor of my teeth or the style of my hair are truly vital matters more worthy of my time and attention than the soul-state of my indifferent neighbors, or the Word of God resting on my bedside table, or my ability to explain what I believe with straightforward truth and mercy.
There are days, to my shame, where I believe what truly matters are the numbers on my scale, the dollars in my bank account, and the model of my car, not the size of my heart, the reach of my compassion, or the scope of my courage.
There are days, to my shame, when I labor for hours researching my next purchase, searching for the perfect recipe, or shopping for just the right bag for those shoes, but find I have no time for coffee with a struggling millennial asking tough questions, no time to see if the single mother in my office could use a free afternoon, no time to dig in with a solid teacher to truly understand the answer to the tough questions I’m afraid others will ask if they know I’m a Christian.
There are days, to my shame, when it’s more important to me what total strangers think about me than the condition of their lonely hearts. It’s more important that I appear sophisticated, educated, and relevant, than risk that appearance by passing them the secret to eternal life.
More important that I remain safe, comfortable, and under the radar of an unforgiving culture, than fulfill God’s desire for me by putting my faith into action, speaking it aloud, and acknowledging in public what I enjoy in those private hours with Him – there is no greater life than to know Jesus Christ and to live in the freedom He provides.
Today, I thank God for Bernie Sanders. God has used him in my life like an alarm clock to a sleeping soul at risk of being late to work. Bernie Sanders’ questions were no threat, but a kindness, a mercy from a loving God, a holy nudge to all of us hobbits enjoying second breakfast in our cozy wingback chairs.
Embrace discomfort, loved ones.
Know what, and why we believe what we do.
Press in to Jesus and let Him remind us why His opinion matters above everyone else’s.
Remember what freedom, love, forgiveness, peace with God, and eternal life mean to you, and imagine having no clue how to find them.
Learn to live the truth, speak the truth, recognize the truth, and be unafraid in the face of truth because the days ahead will call for courage and confidence in the face of lies.
Above all, ask God to fill you with the love that made His first followers able to rejoice in persecution, think of others before themselves, respond to anger and hatred with forgiveness and peace, and live lives worthy of the truth they proclaimed.
God has not changed. Neither has the truth of Jesus Christ. His power and love are available to us now, even as the world around us seems to change before our eyes.
We have nothing to fear unless we choose to live a lesser story than the one to which we’ve been called.
— Lori Roeleveld (@lorisroeleveld) June 13, 2017