Reading in Scripture about how Jesus calls us to live is one thing, but truly following His instructions in real life is tough.
Maybe it’s just me, but I often struggle with showing the love of Christ when I am being insulted, offended, or have to endure an unjust situation.
In the moment, my knee-jerk fleshy response is often not something I’m proud of. It takes some serious prayer and alone time with God to adjust my heart back to Him before I can respond the way the Holy Spirit is leading me to…regardless of what my emotions are screaming on the inside.
In case you haven’t heard or you’ve been led to believe otherwise, truly following Jesus will never be easy.
Jesus taught in John 16:20-22:
20 Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
Spoiler alert: A Christian bubble doesn’t exist.
If we are to be obedient, then we can’t live in a bubble and our lives will have grief and strife, as Jesus said, while the world rejoices.
But this is not the end of the story!
In spite of trials we may go through, God is still on the throne and still in control. I think sometimes we forget this truth. I know I have.
Furthermore, how we react in the midst of trials, persecutions, and offense is just as much a part of our witness as how we act when times are good.
Maybe God has placed us where we are to be salt and light in the middle is decay and darkness.
Maybe we can be the catalyst for changing someone’s eternity by being the hands and feet of Jesus while insults are hurled in our direction.
The bottom line is we’re not to react the same way the world does.
We’re called to be different.
We’re called to act differently during unfair circumstances.
This is what “taking up our cross” means. This is the cost of being His disciple (Luke 14:25-34).
One of my favorite pastors, Jon Burtram, from Redemption Church Charlottesville in Charlottesville, Virginia, often says: “There is NEVER a time to not be Christlike.”
He’s right. There isn’t.
So my brothers and sisters in Christ, until we see Jesus again:
9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.
10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.
11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.
12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.
13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.
15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.
16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!
17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.
18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back, “says the Lord.
20 Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” ~Romans 12:9-20, NLT