It is currently 4:30 am in my neck of the woods. I am wide awake and have been for about an hour. There is a lot on my heart because as I write this my husband and I are being persecuted.
I knew many years ago when I accepted Christ that in all likelihood I would at some point be persecuted. There was a small problem with my idea of persecution. I assumed that I would be persecuted by non-believers who didn’t know Christ, you know like a missionary in a Muslim country or something. Never in a million years did it cross my mind that those who pursued my downfall would be fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
As a result the battle has looked much different than I anticipated.
At first I wanted to hit people. Like, for real-seriously. I have never been physically violent (the thought is somewhat amusing), but something about the injustice of the circumstance brought it out in me. I can handle when people talk smack about me, but my husband? DIFFERENT STORY.
I eventually surrendered the thoughts of physical violence. I am somewhat logical, and as a parent jail time is not ideal. It also has a way of dampening a ministry. So then my mind turned to putting our persecutors in place with my words. I would stand in front of the mirror on Sunday morning, practicing what I would say when I passed so and so. My mirror got a serious talking too.
My husband, who I truly believe to be the most righteous man I know, has been on his knees through all of this. Seeing no other option I finally gave in and started praying too.
At first prayers were bitter and looked a little like this: God, you know these things aren’t true. We are good. We haven’t done anything wrong. Change their hearts.
The Lord didn’t smite me in my indignation. He Loved me instead.
Now my prayers are something like this: God, you know these things aren’t true: that we are good and that we haven’t done anything wrong. Change my heart.
God, because He doesn’t give up on us, has been pursuing me in all of this. I know the peace I feel can come only from Him. Please don’t misunderstand. What is being said about us right now is NOT TRUE, but neither is my claim to righteousness. I am not without sin. There is no one righteous, no NOT ONE. I have not plotted or sought others removal, but I have harvested bitterness towards those who slander us. In doing so I have not been upright and above reproach.
I needed to repent, and still do. This side of Heaven sin doesn’t go away. So I confess, and suddenly where once I was angry and ready for revenge I am now brokenhearted and desperate for reconciliation. Those who persecute do not incite my wrath, they solicit my heartbreak.
Why? BECAUSE WE ARE THE CHURCH, and people are watching. Will they see us LOVE one another? Oh, how I pray that will be so, lest we shame our Savior. Ultimately its His name on the line, not mine.
Christ tells us that others will know we are His followers by the way we LOVE one another. On the cross, as He was murdered, though innocent, He doesn’t call out for blood. He doesn’t let the people know just who their messing with. No, he asks that they be forgiven. If we are to take up our cross and follow Him, then we are to Love and Die like Him too. That means we go willingly to Golgotha and trust that the Lord, in His infinite wisdom, is walking beside us with a purpose we can’t yet see.
I know some of you read and you question the whole concept of “CHURCH” for reasons just like these. I write this down in hopes that by being transparent about our trial you will see what Christ intends and what the church does are not always the same. DO NOT JUDGE THE GROOM BECAUSE HIS BRIDE IS A HARLOT. Know that we who serve the church seek her restoration and will sacrifice everything we have to see that accomplished. Why? Because our desire is to Love others the way Christ first LOVED US.
The words of this song have given me immense comfort lately, so I leave them with you:
How deep the Fathers Love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son,
To make a wretch His Treasure
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer.
But this I know with all my heart,
His wounds have paid my ransom.