To Follow Jesus
My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.
March/April 2016 Issue – Straight from the Heart, ‘I have you in my heart … all of you share God’s grace with me’ Philippians 1:7
The text set for today’s reading and meditation:
Philippians 1:29 (NIVUK): ”For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, “
Think back over your Christian life and go over those times that you have really suffered because of your faith in Jesus.
Paul’s words in today’s verse tells us that it’s a privilege, an honour to suffer for His sake; but I agree with Selwyn, when he says that in western countries there is little suffering among Christians.
I liked Selwyn’s conclusion because I think it’s an accurate reflection of the current situation.
He writes: “Why do modern-day Christians in western countries, not suffer more than they do? We certainly shouldn’t court suffering – but we ought not to avoid it either. Perhaps the reason why we do not suffer very much is because our lives do not challenge other lifestyles by their integrity, their purity and their love.
The world sees nothing in us that is distinctive. We make little impact on society, we are seldom bold enough to speak out against evil, minding our own business in case anyone should be offended. Faith and suffering are linked together as twin Christian privileges.”
Yet, I believe that the day has come when Christians, those who faithfully follow Jesus, will now have to take a stand against the current trends in today’s society. The concept of sin, as described in the Bible, is now ridiculed by many. The excesses of sexual behaviour as championed by this current generation is seen as the new normal, and the freedom to express a different religious opinion, is being limited by legislation in a number of countries.
One of the worst aspects of these changes to the fabric of our society is that there are some people, who call themselves Christians, who would rather re-interpret Scripture to match the populist views (as often seen in social media) and justify their actions by saying that ‘we’ need to reach out – in love – to all people. It’s only half the story, we do need to reach out in love but truth must never be sacrificed.
As Jesus has told us – we cannot love both the world (meaning, its sinful ways) and God. John 15:19, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”
Have you recently felt the hatred of this world?