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Attitude: Are You Bold in Christ, or Do you Hide Your Walk?

All too often, and I hear this from colleagues and even from church members, that the preacher is the only one who needs to proclaim the word of God, the one the church hires to feed the sheep, the person who’s hired to do all of the work of the church. In the age of consumerism, this is the biggest lie many within the church have bought in to. The Church, not the building (that’s not the church) but the People, is the Body of Christ, and EVERYONE within has a part to play. Jesus compares us to branches attached to Him, and says “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:2) We’re told by Paul that we have not been given a spirit of fear, but of Power and of Love and of Self Control. Loved ones, let’s consider, then, that every one of us has a role to play, and while we may have a personal relationship with Christ, it's not the sole directive of the minister to proclaim the Gospel, that every one of us is called to do so, and that, because the Gospel calls us from darkness in to Light, we will make enemies, because men love darkness rather than light. And this is why Jesus says “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed. We are blessed from WITHIN persecution. God blesses us during trials and tribulations. It’s why the apostles and early brethren in the book of Acts could get beaten, imprisoned, stoned and tortured and sing praises, pray for even more boldness, and proclaim even louder the mercies of God. They were blessed, and even more so because they shared in the suffering of Christ.

… are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Consider, for a moment that nearly every prophet of the Old Testament was murdered, beaten and/or tortured in his ministry. Why? Because they called people from sin in to God’s righteousness. We can only be righteous as we are found in God’s will, and it is God’s will for us to be in Christ Jesus. It is righteous to declare the mercies of God, but to declare those mercies, we must also confront sin. Too often, well meaning (I hope) people want to “be nice,” and so they either ignore sin, trying to make the church attractive to non-believers, or they embrace it, trying to make the Gospel about a carnal version of love, rather than God’s mercy on us through Jesus’ Christ’s sacrifice. It is when we are bold, confronting sin, and calling people to repentance in Christ that we share in the suffering of Christ, and suffer for righteousness’ sake. Loved ones, this is of utmost importance! We may lose our jobs, friends, family, and even our very lives, but for the sake of Christ, and to lead others to His saving and amazing Grace, there is nothing we shouldn’t give!

…for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3 that no one can see the Kingdom unless He is born again. Consider that Jesus’ statements are not unlinked: if we’re born again, we will be persecuted for righteousness’ sake (more on this tomorrow!). If we’re born again, we’re made new, and do not belong to this world, so no threats of this world will worry us (no weapon formed against us shall prosper!). If we’re born again, born in to righteousness, we understand that we’re pilgrims and sojourners in this world, and that should we lose everything, even our lives, for Christ’s sake, we will be with Him and gain Him in the next world. And that is our goal, to get to Jesus, and so to please Him, and because of our love for Him, we will seek His righteousness.

John 15

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

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