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As I go out into the world, presenting the gospel on television and radio talk shows or exalting Jesus from secular and religious platforms, I am treated with respect--most of the time. But reviews of my engagements are not always as gracious as my live hosts are. They sometimes describe me as a middle-aged woman parading a worn-out, old-time message that has no relevance in our century--simply because I lift up the cross.
I have been accused of trying to ride my father's coattails and make a name for myself because I have walked through doors of opportunity that have been opened for me to proclaim God's Word. I have been attacked as a Jezebel who is leading women within the church into sin by my own example of ministry leadership. I have been labeled unloving, intolerant, exclusive, narrow-minded, fundamentalist, naive--and more. I have been excluded from social functions, platforms, seminars--and even from some churches.
When I look at John 15:17-27, which records Jesus' words the evening before His crucifixion, I see that Jesus prepared His disciples--and those like you and me who would follow them--for the kind of treatment they could expect from the world around them--a treatment that would require deep convictions and the courage to live by them.
Courage to Stand Out
Jesus began His challenge to stand out for Him in the world with the command "'Love each other'" (John 15:17, NIV). He showed the disciples how they would find the courage to not only live their lives for Him on a daily basis after Jesus was gone but also give their lives for Him on a final basis in death.
Knowing how difficult it was going to be to live for Him in the midst of the world, Jesus reminded His disciples: "'Remember the words I spoke to you: "No servant is greater than his master." If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also'" (v. 20).
They didn't just persecute Jesus; they crucified Him! Why do you and I think we will be treated any better?
Jesus gave five reasons for the world's persecution of Christians. These reasons have remained valid in the lives of believers down through the centuries:
The first reason Jesus gave is our identification with Him, whom the world hates: "'If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first'" (v. 18).
Hate Jesus? What evidence do you and I see of hatred toward Him today?
Is there an underlying hatred of Christ when His name is invoked in profanity, rather than the name of Buddha or Allah or Muhammad? At the very least, profanity reveals that deep within the human spirit there is no neutrality toward Him.
Recently on The View, a TV talk show that involves a round-table-type conversation among several women, Joy Behar remarked that she had successfully lost weight on her diet. She then exclaimed "Praise Jesus!" When the show was aired on the West Coast, the name Jesus was bleeped out! The same network that peppers its programs with God's name used in profanity found it offensive when His Son's name was used in sincerity!
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