Throw off everything that hinders us from standing for Christ. (Hebrews 12:1)
If you are a real Christian, living with Christian convictions, then you know how dangerous of a time we are currently living in. Every where you look we are being assailed for our own religious convictions. If you voted for Trump (I didn’t) you are called a racist, bigot and sexists, regardless if you are any of those things. If you stick to your conviction that homosexuality is a sin, you are called a fascist, intolerant, backwards, ignorant and hateful. As a matter of fact any conviction you have that doesn’t match up to popular culture turns you (and me) into a target to be lampooned.
It is a tough time for us to be Christians and to be vocal about it, especially when we find ourselves having to stand up for our beliefs. I am so saddened to see many of my Christian friends backing down from Christ’s teachings and God’s word simply because it isn’t popular today.
The words Christ spoke to the Twelve when he sent them out are even more powerful today and I highly recommend you read Matthew chapter 10.
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:21-22
“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” Matthew 10:32-36
Those might be strong words but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a healthy fear of what it would mean for us not to stand by Christ’s teachings. This isn’t a flexible, “do what your feel” kind of faith. The Word of God contains plenty of warnings about failing to honor and acknowledge our faith in God. I don’t ever want to be found wanting when my time comes. I would much rather be on the wrong side of history than the wrong side of hell. My life on earth is short but eternity is forever.
Being a Christian, a true Christian who refuses to back down from our believes, is not an easy decision nor is it an easy life. It will only get more difficult for us as time goes by which is why the words of Ignatuis, “Be it so” are both comforting, encouraging and powerful.
The statement that peels off and thunders strongly down the centuries is “Be it so.” This was the constitution of Ignatius. The prospect of visual torture? Be it so. The invisible mental and emotional torture? Be it so. Death by fire? Be it so. Death by crucifixion? Be it so. Lion’s jaws? Same. Broken and torn limbs? Yep. The worst the devil can dish out? Bring it on.
“Be it so” are the words of a man who has stopped caring about what men think — especially powerful men like the emperor Trajan. If Ignatius were living among us in the digital age, he would never, like many men today, tremble at the thought of disappointing people, bosses, friends, peers, neighbors, or the guy in seat 22A next to him. Instead of being incapable of direct and strong speech about his Savior, he would tell his story and leave the results in God’s hands.
He would not hedge, waffle, or procrastinate in declaring his faith in order to play to people. He would not be scared silent by the simple threat of rejection. He wouldn’t fear being abandoned, losing support, or not being able to cope with disapproval of his faith. “Be it so” are the words of a God’s man whose personal commitments, actions, and words have zilch to do with living up to the expectations or standards of other people. Being faithful to Christ replaces being liked by people.
During the fourth great persecution (AD 162-180), cruelties against Christians were so horrific that onlookers were astonished that followers would not turn from Christ. One man on the wanted list was a friend and disciple of the apostle John named Polycarp. His death and capture were recorded in history and are relayed in The New Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.
Father, thank you that you have promised to provide what I need.