Is it enough to know and believe what is right?
That is a challenge Christians have always faced and one that we face today. “The crowd” in whatever form or name you choose to give it (popular opinion, the state, the authorities, the man, the world) is always going in a direction and, let’s face it, in a big picture view, it is pretty much always going in the wrong direction. Without the influence of the church, the world becomes more and more immoral.
We know, as Christians, that we are not to “go along with the crowd”. But, taking a stand, speaking up, makes you a target for trouble. That trouble may be disassociation. It may be labeled as “hating” (which is ironic, since it is normally an act of love and caring for others over self that prompts one to take a stand). It may mean financial, verbal, legal or even physical persecution. In some parts of the world, it may mean imprisonment and even death.
But where is the line between silent protest and silent acquiescence? Where is the difference between staying and fighting and shaking the sand from our sandals and moving on to where people are listening to the conviction of the Holy Spirit?
As we look at the words Jesus told to the disciples, that in their own ways each of them would abandon Him, we are convicted in the ways that we too abandon Jesus in our approach to the world of “get along, go along.”
But, I think the answer to this is also provided in these same verses. We are called to pray by “asking in Jesus’ Name.” I think that has far less to do with the words we pray and more to do with what we pray for. We have a very big tendency to pray for ourselves. I’m not saying that is not allowed, but it isn’t the entire picture. What if more of our prayers were for Jesus to be glorified? What if more of our prayers were for Jesus to be made known to non-believers? What if more of our prayers were for other sheep to be found? What if more of our prayers were for the missionaries who are dedicating their lives to their calling? What is more of our prayers were for our pastors, our leaders, our judges, our courts, our teachers, our civil servants, our doctors?
What if we stand firm not in spite or to make a point and not with thoughts about becoming a target or raising the attack of others, but because by standing firm we provide strength to that other believer who thought they were alone?
Speaking up and taking a stand always brings troubles. But, nothing can be brought to bear that Jesus has not already overcome. Not only has He overcome it, but, by the presence and seal of the Holy Spirit, He has already overcome it in our lives in our situation in our time.
To ask for the things that Jesus would ask for and for them to come for His recognition and glory.
Steadiness. A solid daily witness through words and actions. Help and guidance in the things he has entrusted to me (particularly the people, i.e., family members). For a giving heart.
Any level of persecution is a test. Also the temptation to “go along with the crowd” when others are acting or saying things that are not Christ honoring.
There is nothing here that is stronger than Jesus. He has overcome not only His own death, but also all the problems and troubles the world may ever dish out to me.