What Will Others Think?

Child: Mom, is God bigger than we are?
Mom: Yes, God is bigger than we are.
Child: Does God live inside of us?
Mom: Yes, God does live inside of us.
Child: Well, If God is bigger than we are, and He lives inside of us, won''t He show through?
In lPet.3, we are told that it is better to suffer for doing right than for doing wrong. When we suffer for doing wrong, others just feel that we are getting what we deserve. But, if we suffer for doing right, and respond correctly, then others see the hope that we have and are drawn to Christ as a result. That is why lPet.3:14 talks about suffering for the sake of righteousness and the very next verse tells us to "be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account of the hope that is in you". People are watching us to see how we respond to the trials
that we face, especially those trials that are painful and seem unjust. If we respond with wisdom, in obedience, then the fruit of the Spirit is manifested in our lives, and others, in wanting what we have, are drawn to Christ. A good example was when Christ was hanging on the cross between two thieves. One reviled Him, the other was drawn to Him, admitting that they were getting what they deserved, "but, this man did nothing wrong". (Luke 23:41) He was drawn to Christ, because, even through the injustice, the love of God was manifested, and, by the Spirit of God, he recognized Christ as the Son of God.
Suffering for the sake of righteousness not only has an impact on those who observe, but, it changes the lives of those who go through it. In fact, I firmly believe that it is impossible to know real spiritual freedom without going through the fire first. A good analogy is the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3. They had refused to bow down to the image that king Nebuchadnezzar had set up. This infuriated him, so he had them bound hand and foot, and thrown into the fiery furnace. When he looked in, however, he saw four men walking around in the fire. One of them looked like the"Son of God". It was the preincarnate Jesus in the fire with them. And He will be with us in our fiery trials too. When they came out of the fire, the one thing that was missing was the ropes that bound them. In actuality, the only thing that was destroyed by the fire was the bondage that held them. We will be freed from our bondage by fiery trials, too. In fact, the scripture says that "Since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin". (lPet.4:1) If our response to our suffering is correct, it will have a purifying effect on our lives.
What every man and woman wants is unfailing love. That is the kind of love that is selfless and sacrificial. It is the kind of love that comes only by the power of God. It is the kind of love we are supposed to have for one another. It''s the kind of love that puts the other person''s life ahead of our own.
A Story of Love
Joey, a boy about 5 1/2, had just recovered from a very serious bone disease. His sister Suzie, age 4, had the same disease and would likely die if she did not receive a blood transfusion soon. The most natural donor would be someone who had successfully recovered from the disease, and one who had the same rare blood type. Joey was the best choice. The doctor, after examining Suzie, turned to Joey, and explained that she might die without a blood transfusion. He asked Joey if he would give his blood to his sister. Joey looked at Suzie''s emaciated body, was quiet for a moment, and then with trembling lips said, "for my sister, yes, I''ll give my blood." As they were wheeled side by side on gurneys into the hospital room, a healthy robust Joey, looked over at his sickly sister Suzie, smiled, and winked. The smile soon disappeared as a needle was put into his arm and the blood started flowing from him to Suzie. He layed there for what must have seemed like hours. Finally, with trembling lips he looked up at the doctor and said, "doctor, when am I supposed to die?" You see, when Joey said that he would give his blood for his sister, he made a decision far greater than anyone had thought. The scripture tells us that "greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for a friend". {Jn.15:13)
By the power of God, we can love like this. We just need to be empty vessels so that God can love through us. As Christians, if we would just totally submit to God, and allow His love to flow thru us, this world would be turned upside down. There would be a turning to God like we have never seen before. The only thing holding it back is ''self''. Let''s get out of the way!
We can love selflessly, the kind of love described in the Bible in lCor.13. We can even love those we don''t like. I really used to struggle with this concept, until I discovered that love is not an emotion, but an action. Love can be defined in scripture as selfless service to others. In Mark 10:45, Jesus said, "I came not to be served, but to serve, and to give myself a ransom for many". We can selflessly serve those we don''t even like, and when we do, we will find that God will change the way we feel about them. The feelings come as a result of the service. A good example is when a new mom or dad must get up in the middle of the night to change the baby''s diaper. Usually, it is the last thing that they want to be doing. But, they find that, as they are performing this service, they are filling up with love for the baby.
The service comes before the emotion. This is where a lot of marriages fail. Couples make the mistake of thinking that they no longer feel any love for their spouse, when in actuality, they have just quit putting the other person''s welfare first, and have quit serving each other. Can you see that pride and self are in the way again? These are what bring about divorce. To put the love back means to put the other person''s welfare ahead of your own and to serve them selflessly, regardless of how you are treated. The following story really puts this into perspective:
Love Heals All Pain
Sir Walter Scott was a famous poet and novelist in the late 1700''s and early 1800''s. When he was young, he had an experience that profoundly changed his life and his outlook about love. One day he picked up a rock to throw at a stray dog in order to scare it away. His aim was much better than he had thought, because, the rock hit the dog hard and broke it''s leg. But, a strange thing happened. Instead of whining and running away, the dog limped up to him and licked his hand. Even through the pain and injustice,the poor helpless dog sought reconciliation. What Love!! What forgiveness!! But wait! Isn''t that the kind of love that was demonstrated on our behalf? {Rom.5:8). Isn''t that the kind of love that we are supposed to have for one another? And, what happens when the world sees that kind of love in us?
The actual giving of His life by Christ was the greatest form of love known. While we may not be called to lay down our lives, we are all called to put the other person''s welfare ahead of our own. This admonition is throughout scripture. When we do this, we are loving as Christ loved, and when we do, others are drawn to Him. Often, it takes a child to show us the way.
One For all
Chad was a kind and sensitive little boy of 7. He had accepted Christ into his life at the age of 5. It is easy to wonder if one so young can really grasp what the Christian life is all about, but Chad''s life had changed from that of a rowdy young lad to that of a gentle, soft-spoken boy who cared about others. His mother was worried about him, though, because it seemed that he did not have any friends. Each day after school, the kids would come down the sidewalk, arm in arm, laughing and having a good time. Then, there would come Chad, walking all by himself. It seemed that no one even cared.
One day after school, Chad walked briskly into the house. He was excited, because Valentine''s Day was near and his class at school was going to have a party and exchange valentines. So, Chad asked his mom if she would help him make valentines for each child in his class. His mother agreed, but, in the back of her mind she felt apprehension, feeling that Chad would probably not receive even one valentine. Nevertheless, she spent hours cutting, clipping and pasting, with Chad, until there were 35 beautiful, hand-made valentines for him to hand out. Chad was very excited. Finally, Valentine''s Day came around and Chad rushed off to school, anticipating what a great day it was going to be. All day long, his mother anguished over the hurt that Chad might feel when he didn''t receive a valentine from anyone. She decided to bake some cookies, so that she could cheer him up with hot cookies and milk when he got home. Well, 3 P.M. finally arrived and Chad''s mother stood looking out the window, afraid of what she was going to see. There came the kids, arm in arm, hands full of valentines. And there, a little way behind, came Chad, all by himself, and empty-handed. Her heart sank. She met him at the door with cookies and milk to cheer him up. But, as Chad came in, he joyfully expressed the attitude of his heart. "Not a one! Not a single one! I didn''t miss a one. I gave a valentine to every one of the kids, and now they will know that I love them."
The Lord Jesus gave His all, so that we might know the depth of His love for us. Shouldn''t we be willing to do the same, to show our love for Him. And," when we do it unto the least of these, we are doing it unto Him". (Matt.25:40)
When we respond correctly to trials, we are walking in the Spirit, and His fruit is visible. Then, if we are sensitive to the leading of the Spirit and prepared to share our faith, we will have many opportunities. This is another reason why responding correctly to trials is so vital. Today, everyone''is under stress and is looking for answers. Jesus is the answer! The fields are white, and ready for harvest. We must not shrink back or fear suffering injustice, but simply obey God and trust Him to use it for His Glory. The Gospel is the message and we are the messengers. "How blessed are the feet of those who bring good news". (Rom.10:15)
When I walk the streets of heaven
And the saints are around me near,
I hope someone will say to me,
It was you who invited me here.
Ten Boom
We are all called to be witnesses for Christ, but not all of us are called to be evangelists. Evangelism is a gift and should be exercised by those who possess it, but, we are all witnesses in the way that we live our lives before others. If we are living in submission to the Lord, then others will see something different about us and want what we have. It is our responsibility to tell them what causes that difference in our lives. This is our testimony. Unless we can verbalize our testimony, we are not prepared to give an account of the hope that we have. (lPet.3:15) Are you prepared?
The great commission tells us to go into all of the world and spread the Gospel. (Matt.28:19, Mark 16:15) This is God''s will for each one of us. He gives us the opportunity quite often, but, we usually don''t follow through because either we fail to recognize the opportunity or we are afraid for one reason or another. We seem to be more concerned about what others think of us then what God thinks of us. This happens when we have made the wrong choice and the flesh is in control. When we are submitted to the Spirit of God, He is in control, and we are sensitive to His leading. Fear which is from the devil, tries to creep in, but God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of sound mind. (2Tim.1:7). And,"greater is He that is in us, than He that is in the world."(1 Jn.4:4). Therefore, with God''s strength, we can overcome that fear and fulfill God''s purpose. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me~" (Phil.4 :13).
If we can become an empty vessel, totally submitted to the Lord, and seeking to glorify Him, we will have many opportunities. When we have died to self, and are totally submitted, then God can love through us with His perfect love, and we need not be concerned about how well we perform, or what others will think, etc .. The surpassing greatness of God''s power will be manifested and His will accomplished. (2Cor.4:7).
I started to understand this a little better when I recently did a study on the ''Glory of God''. In the book of Exodus, we are told how the ''Glory of God'' filled the tabernacle. In other places we are told about the ''Shekinah'' glory of God in the temple, and how the''glory of God'' was in the burning bush that spoke to Moses. Then, as the Israelites were coming out of Egypt, they were led by a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of smoke by day. These were all manifestations of the ''glory of God''. In other words, then, one definition of the ''Glory of God'' could be: The visible presence of the invisible God. Well, let''s carry this a step ~ further. If the purpose of our lives is to glorify God, then, could we say that to do this, God must become 1visible in us? That is exactly what happens when we are submitted to, or are walking in the Spirit. We are making God visible to those with whom we come in contact. Isn''t that why we were created? Perhaps that is why the most fulfilling time in our life is when we know that we are walking with the Lord.
(Re-read the story at the beginning of this chapter, about God being bigger than we are) .