Thursday, September 20, 2012

IT'S TIME TO SPEAK UP - NOT SHUT UP!


Recently I was talking with a Christian brother about his job and how his boss had told him that he would have to stop sharing about Jesus to the clients who were receiving their services.  It wasn't that the clients were complaining about it but it made some co-workers feel uncomfortable.  This is a trend that is becoming more prevalent in our modern day American society.  Some people become extremely uncomfortable when they hear Jesus being talked about.  Throughout the work place in North America Christians are being told they have to be silent and not talk about such things.  But it's not only in the work place.  Even in Alcoholic Anonymous Meetings, where it's encouraged to find a higher power, Christians are being told not to share about their sobriety through Jesus Christ.  I was even meeting with a guy for discipleship at a local coffee shop in Salinas, Ca when I guy got very agitated with me because he kept hearing me refer to Jesus.  The days of Christ being warmly received in our North American culture is over and the hostility that's replacing it is only going to get more intense.  However, let me admonish you:

THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO SHUT UP - BUT TO SPEAK UP


During a study of God's word in the church that meets in my house God gave my church family  a glimpse into the the bold missional lifestyle that those early Christians had.  It was found in Acts 8:1-4. Listen to what it says,

"On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him.  But Saul began to destroy the church.  Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.  Those who had been scattered preached the 
word wherever they went."  

The execution of Steven was found with such favor that it incited a vicious movement of persecution against the Christ's followers of such proportions that Christian men and women were being dragged out of their house, thrown into prison and even killed.  This persecution was so intense and extensive that it caused Christians to flee Jerusalem for their vary lives.  To remain in Jerusalem meant certain death but to flee offered the hope of life and freedom.

The scripture tells us that the apostles remained in Jerusalem and that it was only the ordinary Christians that actually fled.  The Bible also says that these Christians were scattered throughout all the towns and villages in Judea and Samaria.  From a general and quick observation a person might get the sense that these early Christians were a bunch of cowards.  I mean, if they really had faith in God wouldn't they just stay in Jerusalem and face the opposition trusting that Christ would deliver them from their oppressors?   That, however, would be a worldly perspective but not God's perspective.  In reality these early Christians were just being obedient to what Christ commanded.  Jesus himself instructed them to flee.  The Bible says in Matthew 10:21,22


“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes." (NIV)


Just because they were fleeing doesn't mean they were cowards!   Actually the Bible depicts them to be extremely brave.  Notice what the last line of verse Acts 8:4. It says,


"Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went."  

DID YOU CATCH IT?  These ordinary Christians when they fled, fled still preaching the word and being a witness for Christ wherever they went!

THAT'S ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!

These early Christians weren't scared to silence they just weren't stupid! They weren't going to stick around and get beat up but that didn't mean they were going shut up either!  Nope!  They just went and found a new audience to share the good news and if they got persecuted in that new town they would flee again to a different town and there again begin to share the good news Jesus.

Why didn't those early Christians just keep their trap shut?  Why didn't they just decide to let their faith be a personal faith between just them and God?  Isn't that what most of us would do?  Doesn't that make a lot of sense?  If we are told to stop talking about Jesus at work wouldn't most of us stop and just rationalize our silence with,


"I can't talk about Jesus because my boss told me I can't and if I do I'll lose my job and after all God wouldn't want me to lose my job. Would he?"

Or Would He?  Would God more prefer for you to lose your job instead of being silent about His Son?  To answer help answer that question let me ask two different questions that might shed some light on this topic and give us a more Godly perspective:

Is witnessing of Jesus a suggestion or a command that we've been given?  In Matthew 28;18-20 we read:


"Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

These were Jesus' last words that were spoken and as such were probably the most important words He wanted His followers to remember.  When you know you are sharing your last words with someone you don't talk about the weather - you talk about what's heavy on your heart.  In addition the verb, "GO" is written in the imperative mood which means that Jesus isn't making a suggestion he's giving a command.

So when you take together the occasion for what Jesus is saying: HIS LAST WORDS and they way He said it: A COMMAND, we quickly realize that it's not an option for Christian to stop sharing about Jesus.  No where in the Bible does it say,

"Be my witness and share my Good News with everyone 
unless it gets to dangerous to do so."  

There's no place in the Bible where it say that!  Instead Jesus says that He has all authority and what he's about to command is not an option but a requirement.  WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT JESUS!

Here's the next question: Is being persecuted for our faith and testimony of Jesus a good or bad thing? Again lets see what the Bible says,

"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 'Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."  Matthew 5:10,11 (NIV)

Now what Jesus says here is so counter intuitive to our modern Christian life and perspective.  Today's North American Christians say that its a horrible thing to be persecuted for our faith but Jesus says that we are blessed when we are.  Jesus says that those who are persecuted because they refuse to stop talking about Him have a reward waiting for them in heaven that is beyond imagination but I get the feeling that most Christians feel that they are some how being punished by God if they are persecuted.  

So with these thoughts in mind lets get back to the original question:


WOULD GOD PREFER ME TO LOSE MY JOB INSTEAD OF NOT TALKING 
ABOUT JESUS WHILE AT WORK?

Are you ready?  Here's the answer so you better hold your hat!  

GOD COULD CARE LESS IF YOU LOSE YOUR JOB OR NOT!  WHAT GOD CARES ABOUT ARE SINNERS COMING TO REPENTANCE AND FAITH IN JESUS. AND HE'S COMMISSIONED YOU AND ME TO SHARE THAT NEWS!

Our job as Followers Of Christ is to make him disciples!  It's to shine our light in our part of this dark world!  It'S to go and be a witness of Christ's power and presence that can change lives!    

So what if you lose your job?  Don't you believe and have faith in what Jesus said in Matthew 6:33,

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, 
and all these things (things you need) will be given to you as well."

Don't you trust that God can and will take care of your every need if you are being faithful and obedient to sharing Jesus with the people in this lost world?  Or maybe the words that Jesus had to say to his disciples on more than one occasion needs to be said to us, "Oh you of little faith".  

In truth it's really not a job issue but a faith issue.

So here on my final words that hopefully will admonish you and encourage you to be found faithful!

TODAY MORE THAN EVER
IT'S TIME TO SPEAK UP - NOT SHUT UP


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