Taking a Stand When You Would Rather Take a Seat

Description

Josh McDowell gives advice on how to handle being made fun of or left out of an activity for following Jesus.

Bible Reading: Matthew 5: 1 0-12

God blesses those who are persecuted because they live for God. (Matthew 5:10)

You walk down the hallway wearing your new Love God, Hate Sin T-shirt. At lunchtime, your friends let fly a flock of jokes about your T-shirt, your church, and your faith. Then you start to think you really messed up your social standing by letting your youth pastor talk you into wearing that shirt.

The next time you get mocked for being a Christian, even if you’re not wearing a T-shirt that screams Turn or Burn, throw a party! The Bible says you’re blessed.

You might wonder what there is to be happy about, which is what that word “blessed” actually means. After all, only a “sick-o” likes a big dish of pain with a heap of fried embarrassment on the side. But you can be happy because you’re wor­thy to suffer for the name of Jesus Christ and because you’re in good company. After being beaten for their testimony, the apostles rejoiced “that God had counted them worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of Jesus” (Acts 5:41).

Standing up for God and all that’s good won’t automatically make life easy. Some people will tease you. Others will pick you apart if you do the least little thing wrong. But you don’t have to pretend you’re perfect. When you blow it, admit it, get up, and move on. You are a follower of Jesus Christ, not Jesus Christ himself.

Fear of turning off your friends may keep you from standing up for your faith. The quickest way to turn off your peers is saying, ”I’m a good Christian, and I don’t do those things!” It’s better to say, “I accept you as you are. Please accept me as I am.” If you accept people, it’s amazing how they respond. You have a decent chance of being well-liked even if you don’t plunge into all their activities.

Acceptance or friendship isn’t always what you get, however. Sometimes you do lose friends or slide into a season of loneliness. But be encouraged. You’re in a tran­sition. If it comes down to winning a popularity contest or winning the pleasure of Jesus Christ, shoot for the latter every time. If your friends reject you because of a stand you take, it’s not really you they’re rejecting. It’s Christ.

As you stay sensitive to what the Holy Spirit’s teaching you, you’ll know when it’s wisest to keep quiet and witness without words. You don’t have to leap up on the lunch table and preach while kids eat. But there are times when the right thing to do is to stand up and speak up. Who knows what kind of spiritual fire your sparks might start?

REFLECT: Have you ever been made fun of or left out of an activity for following Jesus? How did you deal with it?

PRAY: Give me your wisdom, God, so I’ll know how to stand up for you.

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