17 Three days later Paul called a meeting of the local Jewish leaders. When they came, Paul spoke to them. He said, “My brothers, I have done nothing against our people. I have also done nothing against what our people of long ago practiced. But I was arrested in Jerusalem. I was handed over to the Romans. 18 They questioned me. And they wanted to let me go. They saw I wasn’t guilty of any crime worthy of death. 19 But the Jews objected, so I had to make an appeal to Caesar. I certainly did not mean to bring any charge against my own people. 20 I share Israel’s hope. That is why I am held with this chain. So I have asked to see you and talk with you.” 21 They replied, “We have not received any letters from Judea about you. None of our people here from Judea has reported or said anything bad about you. 22 But we want to hear what your ideas are. We know that people everywhere are talking against those who believe as you do.”
In the passage above Paul is speaking to the Jewish leaders in Rome. He tells them he is a prisoner because he believes that Jesus is the Messiah. Their response is “…the only thing we know about this movement is that it is denounced everywhere.”
I wonder sometimes how I would fare as a Christian if the whole world was against me. Friends, family, work colleagues, local law enforcement, government, even the ‘church’. Would I shrink back into the shadows? I think I’d still believe in Jesus but would I practice my faith quietly? Not Paul. No fading into the shadows for him no matter how unpopular he became or how much persecution he had to face. He even instigated a meeting with his accusers! V17 He remembered that Jesus already told us about this very thing “they will hate you because you follow Me.” Luke 21:17
I need a new way of thinking about being unpopular because of Jesus. I need correct thoughts. If everyone hates me simply because I’m a Christian – I’ve obviously hit a nerve. I’m on the right track. I’m a threat to the devil. I’m a true disciple. But it gets better! I get the privilege of being identified with my Hero – Jesus. What an honour to be a Christian of such quality and calibre that I cop flack from the world. And not to mention the reward Jesus has waiting for me in heaven! Luke 6:22. Denounced and unpopular? I hope so.
Jesus, please help me think rightly about persecution. May I be counted worthy of suffering simply because I love You. Please help me never to shrink back into the shadows but shine for You always.
Written by Boudy VanNoppen