Early this morning as I was sitting on my chair at work reading my bible app (Clearly, because no one actually carries around real bibles anymore…). I came across a few verses that really spoke to me.
“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘ A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. “(John 15:18-20)
My first initial thought was “post them on Facebook!” so I copied and pasted the verses onto my Facebook status when I quickly second-guessed myself. For a moment I started thinking that maybe I shouldn’t post them. They spoke out to me in a convicting way because I very often complain about how people put me down for my faith in Jesus and my passion to follow Him. When I read them, realized that I needed a change of attitude. Instead of being upset that people mistreat me, I need to rejoice. I need to be glad because that means I’m doing something right. Perhaps I really am following Jesus right if people feel the need to persecute me. I don’t need to take it personally because they’re not putting me down; they’re putting Jesus down. Quite frankly, if I didn’t follow Him, they most likely wouldn’t have a problem with me. My goal in life is to have the light of Jesus shine through me and seeing as a majority of the world has always hated Him, they’re obviously going to hate me too. And I’m honestly okay with that. That’s just one of the costs of being a follower.
Now back to my whole Facebook dilemma. I’m about to click that “post” button and I’m still having this argument in my head whether to post it or not. I decided that if I’m really having this debate with myself then that’s a clear sign that I should as a matter of fact post it. These are words from Jesus himself, if I truly follow Him then I shouldn’t even hesitate and if I am hesitating then clearly it’s an attack from Satan. And there is no way I’m letting Satan win.
Now getting to the point of why I’m really writing this: I feel like a lot of Christians these days are watering down the gospel. Taking the Inspiring bible verses, posting them on their Facebook and completely ignoring the ones that people actually need to hear. I don’t exactly blame them either. Who wants to hear about hell and all the costs of following Jesus anyway? That sounds rather difficult, especially in a world that’s all about doing things the easy and convenient way. It’s all about feeling good, being happy and doing what you want. No one wants to be uncomfortable; no one wants to risk stepping out of his or her comfort zone to do what Jesus wants. Everyone just wants to be loved and accepted. However, if you are a true follower of Jesus, you will know your bible and if you know your bible, you will know that Jesus was definitely not one of the most loved and accepted people to walk this planet. In fact, most people despised Him. They hated him so much that they killed him. Do you really think he would have been crucified if all he did were try to inspire people? I don’t think so. He wasn’t all sunshine, rainbows, and inspiration. Don’t get me wrong, He definitely was all of those things, but there’s a whole other side of Him that not many people actually talk about.
For example, people talk about the Jesus that showed love to the prostitute but don’t talk about the Jesus that destroyed the marketplace in the temple.
They talk about baby Jesus coming to earth as gentle as a lamb and dying on the cross to save us from hell, but they don’t talk about the second time He will come as a fierce lion, to destroy all those who curse His name.
I think one of the biggest problems with modern day churches is that they’re so focused on inspiring people to follow Jesus that they completely forget to teach them how to.
Honestly, even writing this right now isn’t easy because I know I’m probably going to offend some people. I like being an inspiration, I like being an encouragement and I especially like showing the love of God but I can’t just love people into heaven. I need to present truth as well. I know I’m not perfect, and I am definitely guilty of sugar coating the message of Jesus but this is just one step to making that right. My words are not to condemn anyone, but to simply try to help people understand what following Jesus really is. It’s not just a decision; it’s a lifestyle. It was never meant to be easy and comfortable. It requires risk and faith. If following Jesus were easy, I’m sure everyone would be doing it because the rewards are amazing and the other option is terrible. So terrible in fact that people just don’t really talk about it. Who wants to spend the rest of eternity in “fiery lake of burning sulfur”? (Revelation 21:8).
The most basic definition of eternity is, “time without end”. Us humans can’t seem to grasp that thought because anything we’ve ever seen or encountered on this planet has had a beginning, and has had an end. So for us to try to understand the concept of eternity seems impossible and unbearable if we’re imagining ourselves burning in sulfur. No wonder we don’t speak of hell. It sounds awful.
Matthew 7:21-23 says “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord! Will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me. ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ but I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s law’.”
At the end of your life, if you were face to face with the creator of this universe, and He said those words to you, “Get away from me, you who break God’s law”; what would you do? Would you wish that more Churches had taught you how to really follow Jesus? Would you wonder why no one told you about the true costs of following Him and warned you about hell? That’s why I’m here making sure I do my part in telling you how important this really is. No matter how uncomfortable it may be.
The verses I’ve been quoting aren’t exactly the most popular ones in the bible, but in my eyes they are some of the most important ones to remember. Posting these, as your Facebook status might not get you as many likes and people might actually reject you. (However, they are not rejecting you, they are rejecting Jesus.) People might call you religious, and hateful, they will probably mistreat you, but does that really matter?
I think the Apostle Paul says it best in Galatians 1:10, “Obviously I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”
So why did Christ’s servants in the bible not care about what the world thinks, yet most of us followers today hesitate to simply post certain things on social media or think twice before we speak cause there’s a chance it might offend some people? That’s not following Jesus, that’s being a coward.
I have a challenge for you, next time you feel like it would be the Godly thing to say something, but you’re scared because it could be offensive, do it. I dare you. That’s what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus. That’s what stepping out of your comfort zone and taking a risk is.
Matthew 5:10 says, “God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs”.
Did you catch that? “The Kingdom of Heaven is theirs”, as in yours if people persecute you for speaking up.
Verses 11 and 12 say, “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.”
If you are a follower of Jesus, this world is not your home. Your goal isn’t to win anyone’s approval but The Lord’s. So stop trying to gain acceptance by this world if Jesus clearly states that you don’t belong here.
Colossians 3:1-10 says; “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.”
That’s a pretty sketchy “what not to do” list, seeing as it pretty much sums up this world’s “to do” list. Which just clearly shows that followers of Jesus just don’t belong here.
Romans 12:2 says “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Strive to be more like Him every day. Read his word, pray, and let Him teach you and guide you. Follow him daily, because only in his shadow will you find true life. Things will never be easy, because there will be so many people against you, the bible is very clear on that but it also promises that there will be many blessings waiting for us in heaven. That’s where we need to set our eyes. Heaven. That’s our promise from Jesus.