Peter went on to write, ” If you suffer as a Christian, don’t be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that Name.” (I Peter 4:16) Thus, when I look at both these verses, I see that when I stand my ground and do what’s ethically upright, I’m adhering and conforming to God’s authority, rather than the world’s…while also realizing that I don’t need to apologize or be ashamed for doing what’s right. Suffering for the sake of Christ means the world will condemn, ridicule, and reject you…but it also means you will be blessed.
This all started when the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law saw Jesus’ disciples eating in the market place with unceremoniously cleaned hands. They came to Jesus demanding to know why they weren’t following tradition. Jesus then quoted Isaiah 29:13 to them, “These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. They worship Me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” So in this verse above Jesus is calling their traditions what they really were – useless commands of man…all the while abandoning the authoritative Commandments of God. In other words, they were worshiping rules and regulations made up by men, not worshiping their Creator.
God’s Will is His gracious disposition toward something as He carries out His divine purpose…always accomplishing what He regards as good and perfect. God will do what He sees fit, and His actions will always prevail…whether we like them or not. That’s because there’s times when God’s Will is far from what we want or desire…but we need to remember that His Will is faultless, flawless, and takes into account things we have no idea about. So by praying God’s Will into a situation… we are praying a perfect prayer.
This verse reminded me of the old saying, “monkey see, monkey do” which then led me into researching mob mentality. Mob, herd, or pack mentality describes how people can be influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors on a largely emotional, rather than rational basis. Just as sheep blindly follow the flock no matter where they go just because that’s what the flock is doing, people tend to take up the behaviors of people around them. (Think of a big sporting event with lots of alcohol and passionate fans.) In a large mob, personal responsibility wanes as we lose self-awareness and we become more willing to engage in dangerous/risky behaviors. Also in a large group there’s more physical anonymity which can lead to the lax of social inhibitions. But this verse tells us not to imitate what we know is not right…rather, to say No and not apologize for our decision. For just because everyone is doing it doesn’t make it right.
Jesus took upon Himself the punishment for the transgressions of all people…every skin color and ethnic group. And He willingly died for the fatal disease of mankind’s soul – sin. When God sent Jesus to save the world, He had no particular people-group in mind, or certain color of skin He had partiality over…No, “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) In God’s eye’s we all matter, and it’s only the work of Satan that diverts our attention away from unity, and deceives us about that foundational truth. Today, lift up your head and look to Jesus…no matter who you are or where you come from, no matter the color of your skin or what you’ve done in the past… you matter to Jesus and He loves you.
Does the world see you as different? The King James Version of the Bible actually calls Believers “peculiar” in I Peter 2:9, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” But what makes us distinctive from the rest of the world? It’s the command to submit ourselves one to another in love and strive for unity. For Jesus said in John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” We have been called to stand out from the world…to be a peculiar people…people that don’t take offense, love unconditionally, and always work towards unity.
This word of warning from God to Isaiah could easily apply to us today in this broken and chaotic world. The people around Isaiah had turned away from God, taking on more worldly views, actions, and behaviors and depending less and less on the Lord. They had become a obstinate Nation that did not honor God as holy, and feared man more than God. So God warned Isaiah of not being taken in by their way of thinking…and of not embracing the world’s view of things as truth. God also reminded Isaiah (and us) that there is only One that is holy and deserving of our praise and honor…only One that we should fear…the Lord God Almighty is His name.
Actively sharing our faith with others is something most of us shy away from. But today, let’s look at this Scripture and how sharing our faith with others will benefit not only them, but us. For anytime we share the word of God we are releasing its power and as Isaiah 55:11 tells us, “My word will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” So think of it this way, as we share our faith with someone we are reminded again of the goodness of Christ Jesus, His great love for us, and how much He has done in our life. In other words, our faith is built up every time we share it…and that sounds like a win win situation to me.
It’s called finding favor before men…of God literally changing attitudes of our enemies. In Ezra 6:22 the Lord changed the heart and mind of their enemy, the King of Assyria, so that he not only supported and encouraged the Israelite’s work, but assisted in it. And when Joseph was wrongly thrown into prison, it says in Genesis 39:21 that the Lord was with him, showing him kindness and granting him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. The Lord can move hearts and extend His good favor to us by anyone…including our enemies.
Imagine, if you will, this picture. You are on one side of this deep abyss, and God is on the other, and there is no physical way for you to get across to Him. But now imagine a bridge spanning between the two sides so that you may reach God. The Cross of Jesus is that bridge, giving all of us access to God the Father. For it is only by the saving faith of Jesus we can approach the Throne of grace with confidence. (Hebrews 4:16) But we must continue to hold firmly to our trust in Jesus Christ…”so that when He appears we may be confident and unashamed before Him at His coming.” (I John 2:28)