What would you do if you were called to give a testimony of what you believe about Jesus? But instead of facing a friendly crowd, you faced an openly hostile group of powerful people? And what if that powerful group of people were so powerful they could (and soon will) murder people for preaching the name of Jesus? Would you be afraid? What would you say?
What if that group had you beaten in public for your testimony then warned you never to mention the name of Jesus? As cowardly as I am, I’d probably run away and try to forget it all and live out a different sort of life.
Fortunately, when that really happened in history, the Church had far superior leaders than I. When the apostles faced the Sanhedrin, the Jewish leaders had them flogged and sent away.
And this blows me away: They rejoiced! They rejoiced because they had been counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus. Read the whole account at the end of Acts 5. It’s amazing.
I keep putting myself in that situation and I just don’t know if I could do it. To praise God not inspite of your persecution, but because of it. My faith feels so small.
I have never suffered for the name of Jesus. Ever. No one has ever beaten me because I whispered or shouted the name of Jesus.
But here’s something that has been blowing my mind lately. While I have not been counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus, I have been counted worthy to lead lost and broken people to Jesus. For around a dozen people, I’m it. For this season of life, I’m the primary (not only, but primary) Christian influence in the lives of maybe a dozen people I care about.
Here’s the deal. I know my story. I know all the dark parts, I know where all the bodies are buried, I know all the skeletons in the closet. I know my story, and I know the dozens, hundreds and even thousands of reasons I shouldn’t be trusted like that. I wouldn’t have picked me for what God has entrusted to me. If I were doing the screening, I would have picked someone that wasn’t as much of a mess. Someone that wasn’t bound to eventually screw it all up.
God is the only one who knows me as well as (better than!) I know myself. And He has counted me worthy of following Jesus. Worthy of leading men. Worthy of being a gospel influence in the world. Worthy of responsibility.
At LifeChurch we had a saying, “We don’t take it lightly, and we don’t hold it tightly.”
At any moment, God could take what he has given us and decide to give it to someone else. We’re not going to hold it too tightly. If God decides to take this from me, I trust His wisdom. I won’t hold it tightly.
But I also won’t take it lightly. God has entrusted a lot to me. I won’t take that lightly, I will work hard, mortify the sin in my heart, and lead and follow with dilligence and faithfulness. I will work at digging out of the mud and mire what it is God sees in my life when He rescued me.
I haven’t gotten to suffer for my faith, and maybe one day God will count me worthy. But for the call he has placed on my heart, for the life that God has counted me worthy, for the purpose that God has set before me, I will try to live a life worthy of the call. (Ephesians 4:1)