Many months back I wrote a number of blog entries with the theme of the Martyr. As I continue to run this race the cross is always at the center of my life. Sometimes it is a comfort representing my forgiveness through Christ and other times it is the torture device that I must embrace to bring glory to God.
Today I want to reflect on the latter… One of my favorite bands in the whole world is U2. I remember when I first began to listen to them; it was love at first “note”. As I was living my life in a Christian community U2 came under fire because of their lifestyles that didn’t seem to match up with the folks I was in fellowship with. It is not a scandal that rock stars cuss and drink, that is the world that they live in, but I believed that I saw evidence of faith in Christ Jesus so I had a major conflict of interests. U2 has always played their cards very carefully when it came to expressing there spirituality. Yet from what I understand concerts are a kin to worship services, and their faith in Christ seems to resonate through most of their songs. Bono and U2 have historically been relatively quiet about there faith and yet there is evidence that they struggle in it. I want to express here why publicly pronouncing there faith in Jesus would be most beneficial to them and to the Church. But more importantly I want you to see this truth and make it your on reality.
When we conceal our identity as Christians two very important things happen. First of all we hide the standards that we know we are called to live by. We have the freedom to gossip, talk about crude topics, entertain bad jokes, and just plainly let our guard down. We hide our witness for the sake of avoiding any sort of accountability. If you have any had any encounters with any one outside the faith you know that when you reveal your faith you are looked at differently. Others act differently, they say awkward prayers over their food, they “act” nice around you, they use religious words that are not a part of their vocabulary… things are dramatically different. This is our natural attempt to avoid persecution as a believer. But as Christ says, if you deny me I will deny you before the Father. So obviously this is wrong but the primary problem is that we as believers are not committed to the Father enough to spend quality time with Him allowing Him to train us to stand strong in the face of adversity. But spending time with the Father demands your life it demands the cross so many believers try to impress others with there mortal Christianity by doing the Christian thing. The Christian thing can be cut on and off when appropriate. It is superficial and when you truly encounter a chaotic situation or a tragedy, your strength collapses. For example a lot of folks have lost faith in the Churches ability to care because we have ceased to utilize, the comforter, the Holy Spirit in our counseling and our comforting. Another person is not capable of bearing another’s burden outside of the real presence of the true and living God.
Galatians 6:12 those who want to impress others by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.
When we avoid adversity we eliminate the physical persecution and we close the door on the spiritual progression Christ could spearhead through our witness.
Philippians 1:12-14 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of my brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.
Paul saw the big picture and expressed it clearly here. What I believe is being said here is that when Paul embraced the persecution of his faith it busted wide the door for others to be Christians themselves and to preach the gospel with boldness.
In contrast to conceal your faith you not only make it harder on yourself to live a Christian life you close the door for others to express there faith.
This is how these words make sense…Philippians 1:29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him.
If Bono would step on to CNN tonight and proclaim openly His faith is Jesus….
1. Sales would drop 2. People would reject him 3. All kinds of comments would be made against him making fun of him 4. A lot of other Christians world wide would be willing to profess their faith in Christ 5. A door would open wide across the entire globe for all professing Christians to preach the gospel 6 Bono and U2 then would be held up by the truths of the doctrine of Christians and be held accountable to act like professing Christians 7. Life would be a whole lot less complicated
So may you not put your lamp under a bed, but put it out on a lamp stand for all to see. And may the Lord give you the courage to step into every aspect of you life as first and foremost a disciple of Christ. May you realize that you do not fear the adversary but believe that He that is in you is greater than he who is in the world.