Persevere in the Persecution
Lately, I have truly felt the ridicule from certain people in my life; or at the very outskirts of my life. Certain family members to whom I am not very close to, but desire to be. Family that break my heart with most of what they say and do to and about me. Family that doesn't have the decency to talk to me, to my face, about whatever it is that I have done or not done to warrant such heartbreak. I have to read about it on social media, or hear from other family members what they've seen or heard. And part of me falls apart with each new comment. I start second guessing myself, and my faith. Do I deserve to be ridiculed and spoken so despicably of by them? Why can't they confront me so we can talk it out? If my faith is truly for Christ, why am I battling this so badly? Why can't I accept that persecution is part of being a Christian? Christ didn't deserve the ridicule and hatred He received, why do I expect better?
But the hardest thing I'm dealing with in this situation is: why do I want to forget my faith for a minute and spew my own hurtful things back at them? It's not fair that they blame me for things that are out of my control. It's not fair that they take no responsibility in anything. And it's not fair that I have to sit back and close my mouth and take it. But what it comes down to is this- I know Christ and they don't; therefore I don't get to behave like they do; and more importantly, I don't get to judge them like they're judging me. Am I perfect and blameless in the situation? Oh, no. I understand and accept that- but despite their thoughts, neither are they. But it doesn't matter. I must ignore the slander of me and my Christ. Turn the other cheek. (Luke 6:29) Ouch. Not only am I expected to allow them to condemn me once, but continuously. AND I must love them and pray for them. (Luke 6:27-28) I have to admit, that's not my first reaction. I don't want to love them, and I certainly don't want to pray 'good' things for them. I want to stand on my pedestal and tell them all that they've done wrong, to me and others. I want to show them how I've tried, explain how much I love them and justify my beliefs. But it's not my job to do so. (Luke 6:37) And honestly, so many others could get on their pedestals and point out all of my flaws as well. (Luke 6:41-42) The difference there is I know better- I know Christ. These family members don't. And I may be the only view they get to see of Him. So am I portraying Christ well enough? That's certainly debatable. (And some days I'm not even sure I know which side of the debate I'd be on.) So I choose (extremely reluctantly) to close my mouth, turn the other cheek, close my own planked eyes and pray. I start with praying for my heart to change- because until that happens, the remaining prayers become moot. I pray that I be Christ-like, and love them despite their hatred toward me. I pray God opens my eyes to their needs that I may be a blessing to them in. (Luke 6:35) (And, yes, that prayer hurts) And I pray for compassion towards them as Jesus has for them and as He has for me. (Luke 6:36) I certainly don't deserve Christ's compassion, but through His grace I have received it. (John 1:16-17) I have to trust that if I show compassion and do to my family what I want done to me, then I need to start with me. (Luke 6:31) I need to be Christ to them, even when I don’t want to be. Especially when I don’t want to be.