When it comes to pain, I rank up there with the greatest of cowards. When I was a little boy I would get slivers in my fingers and not say anything for fear of my dad getting the sewing needle to dig them out. Of course, the slivers always got infected and the pain of removing them later was always much greater, but that's the way we human beings are when it comes to suffering. We put it off, even if we know the hurt will be worse in the future.
Standing up for one's principles can also be a painful experience, especially if we are standing up for Jesus Christ. This Sunday (February 27) we are going to study a sermon Jesus gave to his disciples just before he sent them out on a preaching mission. And what he told them would have worried anybody! He pretty much said there are always going to be some people who are extremely hostile to what he said about himself. And even though their hostility is for the message, they are going to direct that hostility towards the messenger (his followers)!
For centuries Christians have held a respected and privileged place in American society but it is becoming very clear that things are changing. The open persecution we read about in other countries could well become a reality here in the coming years. And then what? Do we give up on Christ the moment following him becomes uncomfortable or even dangerous? It depends upon what we believe. Is Jesus like a crutch in life to help us get through the tough times? Or is he the Son of God, the only way to know God and be right with him? If Jesus is who he claims to be, then we have no other choice than to stand firm in him because our eternity depends on him.
For those folks who see Jesus as a weak, pale faced fellow who doesn't quite fit into the rough and tumble world of modern life, this is a "can't miss" Sunday!