Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. -James 1:2-3
It’s normal to want to escape the pressure. You’re groomed, as Christians, to stand up for your faith. Even when it’s unpopular and self-depreciating. That’s usually pictured as standing up to self-described non-believers. Nobody ever tells you that sometimes you’ll have to defend your faith to self-described believers.
You can walk away from an unsuccessful conversation with a non-believer and chalk it up to the fact that matters of faith sound like nonsense. It makes no sense to them and the more you try, the more it sounds crazy. You irritate them. If they know your failures, they’ll use them against you. They’ll discredit your word and dismiss you as deceived.
The same thing can happen with self-described believers. It happens with people who know the scriptures and live normal lives built on Christian standards. You think you’re right. They think they’re right. You both know you could be wrong. So how do you know who is right? How do you know who is a sheep and who is a wolf? How do you know that what looks like a wolf isn’t just an immature sheep?
One way exists to reveal who is right. It’s the one thing that even immature sheep know. Love. It’s how we’re saved in the first place. Love motivated grace.
The way we know we’ve been transferred from death to life is that we love our brothers and sisters. Anyone who doesn’t love is as good as dead. -1 John 3:14
When you’re standing up for your faith and grace comes into the issue, keep fighting because that is how what you really believe is revealed. That’s when you know if you’re wrong. Everything right that is built on wrong is tainted. If you do not get grace, then you have to question everything else.
Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. -James 1:4
If you find that you have a problem with the very thing that saves you, grace, then be glad because now you know. Any religious thing you can build on top of a foundation that does not have Jesus (His grace, love, and mercy) as the thing that holds it all together will have to be ripped down. But you won’t be alone. The ones you once opposed will be so thankful that you finally arrived to the party.
Remember, there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ. –1 Corinthians 3:11
Those who stand up for grace are going to be opposed. Count on it. No matter what you say, someone will take issue with it. You could be quoting scripture and still be argued with and questioned. It just goes to show that the opposition is not against you, it’s against God.
No one is going to be completely right all of the time. We operate in a very small space of what has been revealed to us. No matter how many square-feet you have in your mansion of insight, your space will always be compared to infinity and that reduces you to knowing hardly anything. The one thing that gives you a spot in the Kingdom at all is the grace of Jesus. It’s what transferred you from death to life. If you get that wrong, then you may want to consider what your kingdom address is.
Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove. -Matthew 10:16
Spreading the Gospel, grace for sins, is hazardous. I was once told, “Every time you stand up, you become a target.” It’s so true. Be smart and quick, but also be loving.
Be sure to practice what you preach so they have less to use against you. Maybe this will fine tune what you risk to preach?
Don’t be naive. Some people will impugn your motives, others will smear your reputation—just because you believe in me. -Matthew 10:17
The more you aggressively spread grace, the dirtier people will fight you. Your experience with grace, the message that saves, will always include your sin. The greater the sin, the greater the grace, the greater the testimony. Also, the greater the attack. Your motives will be disputed if you’re standing with the sinner and they’ll be disputed if you’re the one who sinned. People will focus on the sin and miss the message of grace. Your reputation will be smeared. Grace is opposed no matter how you look at it.
Don’t be upset when they haul you before the civil authorities. Without knowing it, they’ve done you—and me—a favor, given you a platform for preaching the kingdom news! And don’t worry about what you’ll say or how you’ll say it. The right words will be there; the Spirit of your Father will supply the words. -Matthew 10:18-20
There is a great irony here: proclaiming so much love, experiencing so much hate! But don’t quit. Don’t cave in. It is all well worth it in the end. -Matthew 10:22
When you’re called out to defend grace and your faith is criticized in front of everybody, don’t back down. They’ve just given you a microphone. Preach it.