Visit almost any Christian bookstore and it’s easy to find books with positive messages of how God wants us to achieve our best possible personal happiness and to be blessed with material wealth and health. The same messages can be heard on many Christian radio and TV programs and from the pulpits of some churches. Jesus on the other hand was not a prosperity preacher. Today’s passage as recorded by Luke stands in stark contrast to the prosperity gospel, making clear that following Jesus wasn’t about prosperity but about being faithful to God even in times of persecution.
The persecution that Jesus was preparing His disciples for included beatings, stonings, and violent death. Even in the midst of those persecutions, the disciples were assured that the God who cared even about the sparrows valued them so much more and that the Holy Spirit would help in making their defence when called before the authorities.
Although Christians in some countries still suffer physically for their faith, we in the West are unlikely to encounter those kinds of persecutions. We may be tempted to consider ourselves persecuted if our faith is ridiculed by secularists or for some Christians even if we are greeted with “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Even though our comfortable and privileged lives are radically different than those of the early disciples, it can still be difficult to heed the admonition in verses eight to nine about publicly acknowledging Jesus. Whether at the workplace, school, or a social setting, taking a public stand as a Christ-follower can seem odd to those we rub shoulders with. We all want to be valued and accepted and the temptation to fit into society’s norms instead of standing out as someone with different values is very real.
During this Lenten season, may our priorities be aligned with those of Jesus.
Prince Albert, SK
Lenten Reader 2018
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