Susannah W.Synonyms for “Persecute” :
Oppress, abuse, victimize, ill-treat, mistreat, discriminate, punish, tyrannize, afflict, torture, harass, mock
Before going on a “missions trip” you have a list of things you need to bring. You will need physical things, mental things, and spiritual things. Before I left for Barre, Vermont this summer I made sure I had packed my checklist.
Adaptable Spirit. Check.
But the one thing I failed to make sure I had before jumping into the tightly packed, fifteen passenger church transit was the one thing that mattered the most for the purpose of the trip.
At 23 years of age, I’ve been a professing Christian, Jesus Freak, whatever you may call it for over 15 years. Submerged in a hotel pool at 19 proclaiming Christ in me, I’m a full fledged believer.
But this year has really challenged me to dive into what that actually means; to dig in to the original “Christianese” titles of “Believer” and “Saved”.
Getting into the van for the sole purpose of spreading the message of Jesus stopped all of my questions and fears mid-orbit.
“Jesus, do I believe you are who you say you are?”
Study: James 1:1, John 15:20
1. Trials, suffering, and difficulty can be expected. They never surprise God.
2. God desires progress, not perfection as we follow His Son.
3. Riches and comfort will never satisfy the soul.
Serving God through obedience to Jesus, by his Holy Spirit does not equal health/wealth/happiness/etc;
Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.
“I’ve been struggling a lot with belief lately, or I guess you could say unbelief. I know that I know Jesus is the Son of God, but currently in my life I’ve become very cynical and un-trusting. It feels like everywhere you turn there’s another scandal unfolding about someone who told some grand story of success, or holiness but were caught lying about the real story in order to protect their status to maintain some level of power or approval.
I can logically sum up the entire word of God to the main points: That He is trustworthy. That His ways are not our ways.
We’ve been reading about the life and writings of David in the Old Testament of the Bible in our young women’s bible study. It keeps theming that the intentions and the heart of David were not what Saul (His father-in-law/king of Isreal) made him out to be.
I identify with Saul, because I question logically what would give a man like David the brashness, and seemingly arrogant spirit to confidently go slay giants.
In my life I’ve learned to distrust “confidence” when I’ve placed my trust in people who appeared to have that attribute but turned out to be arrogant and manipulative.
The same question I feel myself asking is the same one that Thomas, Jesus’ disciple may have been asking in his mind when he stated , ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’ (John 20:25)
Jesus, Are you truly who you say you are?
When I read in the book of James, it’s a comfort to me because he was literally Jesus’ blood brother. He grew up with the guy. Any skeletons in Jesus’ closet, James would have known about.
Jesus didn’t begin his ministry for thirty years, but James must’ve seen his life play out in real time, during the years prior.
James actually calls himself a servant of his own brother. His brother, by flesh he still worshipped as his God and King. He was willing to die for Jesus, believing He was everything he said he was. That’s belief. That’s faith.
I confess that I often shrink back from living passionately for Jesus and walking in truth because of unbelief. Deep down, that’s the root of every sin. I care all in all entirely too much of what people think of me. I want others to feel loved and accepted, not to hear what I’m not trying to tell them and immediately label me as a religious bigot before even getting to know me.
The second part of John 15:20 says, “If they obey my teaching, they will obey yours”.
In essence that is saying that if God has opened their eyes, and they are truly following him and living by his word, they will obey your teaching as well. They will agree. They will welcome truth and follow it.
In a perfect world, right?
If they don’t then they’re living for themselves. They’ll make your beliefs about them, take it as an attack and persecute you in response.
What I sense Jesus saying here are these words,
‘It’s not your fault. They aren’t picking on you, they are picking on me but I already know. I knew when I went to the cross and took all of it for them. They don’t know what they are doing. They are sad , angry, bitter, and empty kids and all I want is for them to be with me like you are with me now. I’m sorry that happened. You did the right thing. Thank you for loving me kids. I’m sorry they didn’t listen to you. Come here. *hugs*’
When we realize we are right in the heart of Jesus, that He is our comfort and protection, nothing can tear us down.
He is with us when we take the baby steps. He is with us when we fail. He is with us when the world tramples our sensitive hearts.
Thank you Jesus.”
In that moment in the van I was hit with all of this with what felt like a semi truck.
Believe and conviction began to pour out of me as I was able to rest in the Holy Spirit’s confirmation of the word of God.
It wasn’t about me.
It’s not about us.
I may never be prepared for what God had called me to, but that’s okay because He is God. He can do anything in spite of , or despite me.
That is so comforting and relieving.
At the end of the day I can have all the questions in the world and rest confidently in trusting the one who has all the answers, and so can you.