Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ridicule for Christ's Sake

Sanballat was very angry when he learned that we were rebuilding the wall.  He flew into a rage and mocked the Jews, saying in front of his friends and the Samarian army officers, “What does this bunch of poor, feeble Jews think they are doing?  Do they think they can build the wall in a day if they offer enough sacrifices?  Look at those charred stones they are pulling out of the rubbish and using again!”  (Nehemiah 4:1-2 NLT)
            The enemies of the cross use whatever means at their disposal to cripple the work of Jesus’ followers.  Ridicule, mockery, intimidation, false accusations, and scorn are just a few of their strategies.  Our enemies don’t play by the rules.  Lying and falsifying the truth are part of their arsenal.
            As long as the people in Jerusalem were content with their sad condition, the enemy left them alone, but as soon as they showed an interest in following the Lord, Sanballat and Tobiah formed a protest. 
            Opposition serves a twofold purpose.  On the one hand it acts as evidence that God is blessing and involved in the process.  On the other hand it provided an opportunity for growth.  Persecution has a way of bringing out the best in people and increases their faith. 
            In 1953, while serving in the U.S. Navy at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, California, I accepted Christ as Lord and Savior.  Within a week’s time four other sailors became Christians.  I recall being ridiculed and laughed at because of our faith.  They called us “preacher boys, religious fanatics, do-gooders, holy rollers,” and other less glorious names.  This only served to stiffen our resolve and strengthen our faith.  Instead of cowering in fear, we started a Bible study on the base, and began taking Bible correspondence courses from “The Navigators.”  We also memorized three verses a week until we had mastered 108 verses in the NAVS topical memory system.  These verses became our witnessing tools.
            It is not without precedent that the enemy insults the servants of the Lord.  Goliath ridiculed David, “sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy,” he said, “Am I a dog that you come at me with a stick.” (1 Samuel 17:43 NLT)  Jesus was mocked by the soldiers during his trial (Luke 22:63-65), and by the rabble while hanging on the cross. (Luke 23:35-37)
            Take heed brethren.  When the opposition to the work of Christ increases, so do the blessings of the Lord.  Follow Pauls’ advice in 1 Corinthians 16:13, “Be on guard.  Stand true to what you believe.  Be courageous.  Be strong.”  (NLT)
Thought for the Day: God is able to vanquish the enemies of the cross.
Prayer: Dear Lord, help me stand true to your word in face of worldly opposition.  

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