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21 May 2012

Victorious Living - 21 May

Last week we watched as Paul suffered through physical pain and persecution. We saw that Paul trusted in God through all his adversity. But didn’t you wonder – just a little – why God let HIM suffer? Paul? The guy who helped to write a large part of the New Testament? The super-Christian? Obviously, if HE suffered, we’re going to suffer as well. But (whining, just a little) WHY?

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on
account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’[1] John 15:18-25 (ESV)

Looking at these verses, we see Jesus’ answer about persecution: they hate Me (and My Father) and they will hate you as well. If they persecute Me, they will also persecute you.

Have you been in a situation where you’ve taken a stand for Christ and found yourself teased, picked on, or hated? Have you noticed that more and more of our “Christianity” is being taken from us because of political correctness? Can you still wear a cross at work? Put a Bible on your desk? Frame a scripture? Say “Merry Christmas”? Are there other ways you have seen the world hating you because you are a Christian?

If you have been hated for your Christian stand in the workplace, you might want to pay special attention to these verses:

Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.  1 Peter 2:18-23 (ESV)

Obviously we are not “servants” in the sense of the text, but as employees we are “servants” to our “master”, the boss. When s/he treats you unfairly, how do you respond? Does your normal response differ from what is written here? How could changing your response further the kingdom of God?

Believers have been called for suffering because ___________ suffered and gave us an example.

I don’t know about you, but when I am treated unfairly I just want to SCREAM at the injustice (have you noticed that sometimes “unfair” really means “I didn’t get my way”?). Then I want to cry! I am learning to still my soul and clamp my mouth shut so that I can follow Christ’s example.

Take some time to analyze your life in the light of Christ’s example. When you are treated wrongly, how does your attitude and action need to change? Take some time to really think about your reactions to unfair treatment and their effect on your testimony for Christ. Ask Jesus to help your actions more closely model His, and take some time to confess the areas where you need help. He’s promised to be there for you. Your attitude and actions won’t change overnight, but with Jesus’ help, moment by moment, you can accept unfair treatment in a more Christ-like manner.

I will pray for you as you pray for me, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this topic – or any other, for that matter! See you Wednesday.

[1] Psalm 35:19; 69:4

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