Friday, October 18, 2013

Black Sheep for the Faith

For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. (1 Peter 2:20 NAS)

Black Sheep for the Faith
I was deemed by my parents as the black sheep of the family when I turned from idolatry to the Christian faith years ago as a teenager. To them, I was like one who had broken a trust, a lost soul who had deviated from following the family’s faith—Taoism. Initially, my parents tried to bring me back to their fold by punishing me through starvation and locking me up at times, but before long they gave up on me after I repeatedly refused to participate in their religious practices.

Like the difficult situations that befell me after I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior, the disciples in the first century faced even greater persecution when they turned from Judaism to believe in Jesus as the Messiah. Christianity was born during that time and many died for the faith, martyred for confessing Christ. To the religious practitioners of those days—the Pharisees, the Sadducees, among others—the Christians or the followers of Christ were renegades, the black sheep of the family. Persecution ensued and many believers were stoned to death or died by the sword, on the cross, or burned at the stake for refusing to deny the faith.

As Christians, we may sometimes face difficult situations or certain disadvantages. At work, for example, we may be given a miss to a promotion because we refuse to tell a lie or be segregated from a circle of colleagues or associates for being honest. Perhaps we are facing difficult situations because of our belief or because of following Christian principles. Are we crestfallen because our friends, colleagues or associates think of us as a black sheep or because our livelihood is being threatened as a consequence of choosing to do the right thing or tell the truth? 

If we are feeling distraught because of persecution or because of the difficult situations we face for doing the right thing, we ought not to. For we have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example to follow in His steps. If for the sake of conscience toward God we bear up under sorrows when suffering unjustly, it is commendable. If we do what is right and suffer for it and endure it patiently, this finds favor with God (1 Peter 2:19-21). It is better, if God should will it so, that we suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong (1 Peter 3:17). Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial, for once having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him (James 1:12).

Dear Lord, though the world may despise us because of our faith, we will not deny You because You are our rock and our salvation, our fortress in whom we will never be shaken. You O Lord have called us for Your purpose and if You should will it so, we are willing to go through trials or be disadvantaged to do what is right to honor You. Bless us Lord as we persevere under difficult situations and trials. Help us not be crestfallen or distraught Lord even if our friends, colleagues, associates or other people stay away from us or disallow us into their circle because of our faith. Grant us Your favor Lord in all we do that we will stand strong and stay unshaken.

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