2 Corinthians 4:5-10 (NIV)
5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
Contrary to popular but poor theological teaching, salvation does not guarantee an easy life. It is tempting to present Christianity as a safe haven from which to watch the world swirl past. Then we could open the door to allow in joy and blessing, but hardship could not squeeze through. That brand of religion might sell well in the world marketplace, but it isn’t real.
The truth is, Christians cannot escape conflict or ridicule. The biblical principles we hold dear often seem like foolishness to non believers. What’s more, defending our faith and sharing the gospel will frequently draw criticism or anger from listeners. But Scripture counsels against keeping quiet and blending in. In fact, as we ready here in Matthew, we are to welcome disagreement as a way to grow in our faith.
Matthew 5:14-15 (NIV)
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
Take a moment to consider this: Our belief system is named for a man who so thoroughly challenged the status quo that religious leaders called for His death. Jesus Christ was at the center of controversy during His entire ministry here on earth. That’s why the biblical record so often shows Him slipping away for time alone with God. He was seeking direction and receiving strength from Him. We need to model this same behavior. I mean if Jesus needed strength from God, we certainly do as well. While Jesus was fully God, He was also fully human. He knew the sting of rejection and the taste of fear, just as we do. Jesus received every kind of temptation, yet he was able to keep from sinning. He should be our role model in how we live our lives.
Hebrews 4:15 (NIV)
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
As believers, we are called to be peacemakers, but that doesn’t mean isolating ourselves from all who oppose the church. We need to accept conflict as inevitable and reach out to others anyway. You can have a powerful impact simply by being the person God called you to be; His child. And that is a very cool thing to be!