Is there anything more frustrating for a Christian than someone you have witnessed to who believes in Christ but will not confess Him because of how it may be received by others? That frustration is not a rare emotion; in fact a couple of days before Christ was crucified, He experienced that same frustration:
â€œNevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. Then Jesus cried out and said, â€˜He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me.â€™â€ (John 12:42-45)
I had a conversation yesterday with a co-worker who recently lost his cousin to a sudden and fatal heart attack. His cousin was not very old but had lived a full life for Christ. My colleague wondered why the good ones die early and spoke of how his faith at times is shaken because of it. What he described as his faith was more religion than it was a relationship with Christ. I shared with him that religion is man looking for God, whereas Christianity is God looking for man.
But imagine someone you know believing in Christ but not willing to accept Him as Lord and Savior? Imagine a person wanting the praises of man more than the glory of God? Or how about the Christian who is unwilling to publicly stand for his or her faith in Christ. Is that you?
Sometimes I think Christians believe they are secret disciples of Christ like some secret agent for the CIA. â€œOh Bro Dave, I do my work for the Lord behind the scenes.â€
Fear of rejection and ridicule can be a paralyzing emotion, but one we must overcome nevertheless. It must be since the Bible makes a point of recording such instances. There is of course Nicodemus:
â€œThere was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, â€˜Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.â€™â€ (John 3:1-2)
It is believed that Nicodemus was either afraid or ashamed to be seen with Christ, which is why he came at night. Of course we see later that he helped bury Jesus. Would to God that more of us once ashamed of Christ would repent and publicly show our support for the Lord!
Another instance of not witnessing for Jesus is found in John 7:
â€œThen the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, â€˜Where is He?â€™ And there was much complaining among the people concerning Him. Some said, â€˜He is goodâ€™; others said, â€˜No, on the contrary, He deceives the people.â€™ However, no one spoke openly of Him for fear of the Jews.â€ (John 7:11-13)
Beloved, I am not going to pretend I never struggled with fear of rejection or ridicule when it comes to witnessing for Christ. The devil still tries that old trick against me sometimes. However, one day while doing my read the Bible in a year study I came across this passage again for the first time:
â€œThen He said to them all, â€˜If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Fatherâ€™s, and of the holy angels.â€™â€ (Luke 9:23-26)
When it comes to rejection, I guess we need to decide whose we fear most. It comes down to wanting to be praised by man more than we do God. We wear our Christianity like a new coat that we can strut around in and draw attention to ourselves for the works we do for the Lord. But heaven forbid we should have to replace that coat with the full armor of God and go into battle for Jesus. Commenting on John 12:42-45, Matthew Henry wrote:
See the power of the world in smothering convictions, from regard to the applause or censure of men. Love of the praise of men, as a by-end in that which is good, will make a man a hypocrite when religion is in fashion, and credit is to be got by it; and love of the praise of men, as a base principle in that which is evil, will make a man an apostate, when religion is in disgrace, and credit is to be lost for it.
So what about you dear Christian? Would it not be a good time during this Holy Week to determine whether or not your discipleship is driven by the state of religion, be it in fashion or disgrace? As Steve Deace said in a recent interview, it is no coincidence that the Supreme Court is hearing arguments on the constitutionality of homosexual marriage during Holy Week.
The fields are white and yet the workers are few.
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Copyright Â© 2013 David Jeffers