I don’t know about you but it seems that in every family there is always at least one person who is determined to embarrass you- it may be your Dad, your crazy uncle or your little sister (or all of the above, like in my family). They bring out their moves on the dance floor, or their ‘hilarious’ jokes, or their loud pre-teen tantrums and, all we want to do is pretend that they’re nothing to do with us. It is far easier to close your eyes and walk away from them, right?
I wonder, are we ever tempted to do the same with Jesus? To walk away and stay quiet or pretend He’s nothing to do with us, if it’s likely to cause us any kind of embarrassment. Sometimes, it’s so tempting to think, “I’ll be fine, I’ll say sorry to Him later,” or, “What difference will it really make if I don’t say anything?”
The temptation to deny Jesus and pretend you don’t know Him is strong, and it is not something that disappears as you get older. But what is behind it? We can often feel it more when we might be seen as uncool, or weird or even bigoted. All of these things are to do with what others think of us. They take God out of the equation and make our friends, our family and sometimes even strangers’ views of us to be the biggest thing. The thing that is worth the most.
Remembering others who have much more to lose, can help. It can humble us. It can help us re-evaluate our choices and our priorities. It can get our heads straight.
Let’s look at a teenage boy from Ethipoia. On 20th December 2009, Islamic extremists came to his house, dragged his father outside and brutally killed him right there, all because of His faith in God. His family lost everything. They went from being a well-respected, active family in the Christian community, to having to flee from danger and re-locate several times, without any source of income for his mother and his six brothers and sisters. His brother left school to find a job in order to help provide money for the family.
Along with all of this loss, he was faced with more tragedy as one of his brothers was involved in a road accident where two people died and another brother tragically died in a work accident, both in 2011, just 2 years later.
“My father didn’t die in vain. He died for the name of Christ. And that is an honour for me.”
It would be understandable if he thought, ‘This was too much God, the cost you’ve asked me and my family to pay is just too great.’ Amazingly though, the Holy Spirit has ministered to his heart. When asked, “How could you keep silent without avenging your father’s blood?” He replied, “He is my father. I love him and it hurts me to know that he is killed. But, my father’s case is not new when it comes to the gospel. There are others who (have died) for the sake of Christ. So, there is no need for revenge. My father didn’t die in vain. He died for the name of Christ. And that is an honour for me.”
When we look at our very different lives in the UK, what are we often unwilling to give up for the sake of Jesus?
As we know, these things are difficult to deal with and do cause real and significant pain- no one is denying that. God knows that and He promises us that He will be with us, right in the midst of it.
But when we see what some people go through, what they are willing to give up for Christ- a childhood, a father, an easy life, revenge- it changes things. It shines a light on God’s worth and reminds us that nothing, no matter how attractive it is, is worth more than Jesus Christ, our King and salvation.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.