Up to this point in America, it has been pretty easy to be a Christian. Throughout its history, most Americans at least identified as Christians even if they didn’t believe in the biblical definition of it. So, talking the talk has been acceptable even if walking the walk still raised an eyebrow or two. Recently, though, much of the social and spiritual landscape has shifted. Some have labeled our society “post-Christian,” and now even the “talk” is causing a problem in some areas. This week, a news story and an experience at work coincided to really get me thinking about how we, as Christians, live what we believe. As we head deeper into the end of days, there may be a time when we are going to have to make some sacrifices to do that. Are we ready?
Protestors Put Actions with Words
It was a news story on CBS that got my attention. About two hundred people blocked the San Francisco Bay Bridge for over two hours in morning traffic. They had signs and shouted into bullhorns in protest of the United States’ involvement with Israel in the conflict in Gaza. Some lay on the road with white sheets over them in a “die in” to illustrate the over 10,000 people who they say have already been killed. Some chained themselves to each other and the bridge and even threw their car keys into the water so the vehicles couldn’t easily be moved. Ultimately, some 80 people were arrested and subsequently let go. Over a dozen vehicles had to be towed.
Whether you agree with their message or not, these people LIVED what they believed. They sacrificed their time and property to make a point that could not be ignored. And they put themselves into an uncomfortable legal position to do it.
What Are We Willing to Sacrifice?
“And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”Revelation 13:17
According to the Bible, there is coming a day in which no one will be able to do business without worshiping the beast. For those who choose to stay true to Jesus, there will be a high price to pay to refuse. Whether you believe Christians will still be on earth at that point or not doesn’t matter. That kind of massive infrastructure can’t be erected overnight. There will be small, gradual changes in both the physical and social environments leading up to that time to allow for this to happen. In fact, there is a very good chance that we will start to experience true Christian persecution in the very near future.
Of course, right now it’s easy to think to yourself, “I will never give in to the beast system. I would die first” – while you’re sitting on your couch with a full belly and your family all around. But before we even get to the martyrdom of Revelation 20:4, there could very well be lots of other sacrifices required in between. What if it costs you a promotion to serve Jesus or even a job itself? What if it costs you the place where you live? How about your personal comfort in an area? What about giving up friends, family, or your social reputation?
A Personal Testimony
I teach twelfth grade English at a public high school and use a question of the day to take attendance. Instead of saying “here,” kids will answer questions that range from favorite sodas or sleeping positions to least favorite snacks or seasons of the year, etc. It’s a fun way to get shy kids more comfortable with talking in class, and it hits a state standard for speaking before we even start the lesson.
This past Friday in honor of Thanksgiving, I made the attendance question of the day, “What are you thankful for?” I said that I am thankful for my Savior, Jesus. My thought behind asking the question and modeling the answer was that I wanted to give kids the opportunity and courage to name the name of Jesus in public with me.
As the day went on, I started to feel disappointed. Only two students in my first period (out of over a hundred and fifty kids and six periods) said they were thankful for Jesus. Worse than that, by third period when my student who is the president of the “Jesus Club” on campus said the common answer “family,” I started to get a voice in my ear.
The Enemy’s Voice and God’s Truth
“You are just being obnoxious” said my thoughts loud and clear. “You’re shoving Jesus in their faces and pushing them away from Him.” I looked down at the shirt I had chosen that day. It had a cross with the word “Blessed” on it. Was I being obnoxious?
I thought I was standing for Jesus, but maybe it was just bragging about my faith. I thought I was bringing His name into conversations so kids will think about Him when they might not have done so otherwise. But maybe I was just losing credibility as a teacher by coming off as a fanatic. Then I sort of shook myself. That last part just couldn’t be a factor. No matter what people think of me, I have to do what I feel led to do when I feel led to do it.
After all, in the past, I have had a kid tell me in the end-of-the-year reflection letter that he felt like I was “pushing my beliefs” on him. My response was that if I really believe what I say I believe, I have to do whatever I can to speak for Jesus because eternity depends on it.
Then last year on January first, I made a song my New Year’s resolution. It was Russ Lee’s “Live What I Believe.” Like a lot of resolutions, I don’t always live up to it completely, but it’s something I strive to do.
“I’m gonna live what I believe
I’m gonna walk that line
If it costs me everything
I’m gonna stand for what is right.”
How Can We Be Ready?
To know if we will be ready for the big things, it’s time to look at the little things. Are we completely submitted to God in every area RIGHT NOW? We may not have to give up our jobs, but are we bringing Jesus with us to our workplace? We may not have to leave our homes, but are we telling our neighbors about the Lord?
My pastor’s brother-in-law gave the message at church Sunday night. He said the Lord had recently been dealing with him about being a “blinking light Christian.” He asked us, “Do you shine one day but are dark the next? You might be a blinking light Christian.” That was convicting!It’s time to take inventory. If we can’t follow Jesus now when the consequence is an eye roll, how can we hope to do it later when we are facing arrest? Click To Tweet
It’s Time to Count the Cost
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?”Luke 14:28
Is there anything you wouldn’t give up for Jesus? Is there anything you wouldn’t endure? This is the time to get these things prayed through. Now take a minute to consider. Has there been an area of your life that Lord has already been asking you to take a “risk” for Him that you have been resisting or putting off? Remember that you won’t be on thin ice alone. Where the Lord calls, He equips, and He will be with you every step of the way. Now is the time to live what we believe.
Looking for other Points to Ponder? Try Don’t Limit the God of the Hills and Valleys. Or, try The Desires of the Heart: What’s Your One Thing? Please sign up to receive my blog in your email inbox. You can find that at the upper right of your screen (or at the bottom on a phone). Also, check out my YouTube Channel where I read the blogs out loud. I also have a playlist of hymns from my church.