Hi, friend! I’m glad you’re back. You made it another day. You’re still standing. You endured. I told Stacie yesterday that I think I am going to get a tattoo on my wrist that says, “Endure.” I am joking a bit, but not totally. Sometimes I need to be reminded that by the power of the Holy Spirit I can faithfully endure whatever this world throws at me. And in the end, by His grace, I’ll still be standing.
Wise king Solomon said, “Seven times a righteous person falls; eight times they get up.” So, let’s rise together for another day. Go ahead and splash some water on your face, take a sip of your coffee or tea, and wake up. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart and mind. Let’s go!
One thing I love about Echo Church, and several of the other churches that have joined us for The Hope Project, is the surprising number of people who have made first-time decisions to follow Jesus. When someone makes a decision to follow Jesus, some things transform overnight, while other things take years to change.
One of the hardest decisions a person has to make after deciding to follow Jesus is what to do with their network of friends. Ideally, you would share with them the change in your life, and your friends would experience what you’ve experienced. We have intentionally designed Echo Church to help you make a difference in the lives of those around you. So after you publicly declare your love for Jesus, some friends and family members will come with you.
Other friends will likely stand in judgment. Peter literally uses the words, “they are surprised that you do not run with them.” The new light in your life exposes the darkness in theirs. Your new purpose reveals the emptiness of their ways. Your peace reveals their angst, and you now are a reminder to them of what is missing in their life.
Let’s be real, not every one of our old friends will act like this. But some will, and they can cause a ton of grief. Part of you feels conflicted because you want to love them to Jesus, but their very presence is toxic to your soul. It’s really hard when this is someone you are close to—a brother, a sister, a best friend, a childhood friend, your classmate you have been buddies with for five years.
In this passage, Peter gives us HOPE for our struggle by reminding us again of the finish line. At some point the struggle is going to be over and we will stand before God and give an account for the life we’ve lived. In many ways this should make us tremble, but in other ways it should give us a holy longing to see His face and hear His words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
While in high school, I received a lot of ridicule for my new life in Jesus. Several of the guys on the football team mocked me and made fun of my faith. To this day, I’m friends with some of them on Facebook. It’s sad to me to see how many of them are still chasing the same life they chased back then. They continue to pursue worldly things, not realizing the only thing that really satisfies is friendship with the Living God.
My struggle in the locker room of Farmington High School seems so small now. I’m so glad the Holy Spirit walked me through those moments and helped me continue to “run with” Jesus. Back then, I experienced many days when I didn’t feel like it would be worth it. Now I can say without a shadow of doubt, “It was worth it.” When you stand before Jesus and see Him in His glory, every moment of struggle will have been worth it, and you won’t remember the pain.
Peter tells us all of this not to judge others, but to persevere with perspective. Why do you think he then adds this whole “preaching to the dead” thing back in here? See the day before yesterday for my feeble attempt to explain this concept. I think he places it right here to remind us that God doesn’t want anyone to perish.
Short of compromising His character, He will do whatever it takes to help people experience His love. If Jesus, before His death on the cross, would go to Hell and back to offer everyone the opportunity of eternal life, how important do you think sharing the Good News is to the heart of God? Pretty important!
Jesus wants His people to join Him in this mission. Sometimes people won’t come with us, but we keep moving, keep sharing, and keep bringing hope to those around us. Other than running with them in their ways, we do everything we can to love on those around us who don’t know Jesus.
If you are being mocked or mistreated for your faith today, I pray that God would give you a long-term perspective in order that you might persevere. If you have lost your passionate concern for those who live in spiritual darkness, I pray that Jesus ignites your heart with urgency to share His Good News with others.
Father, help me to love those around me enough that I care far more about the state of their soul than I care about what they think of me. Make me bold in my witness, and give me the wisdom to do this with gentleness and respect.
This really speaks to me. I continually get opposition and criticism about my faith from my dad, and recently I’ve been realizing that a part of me has still been tied to his approval. The Bible tells us that following Jesus means even family members turning against each other. And sometimes we also will get criticism from fellow believers about things we feel convicted of, too, which is another thing I’ve been experiencing in the past few years as my faith continues to grow, and my life looks different than those of my friends from the past.
Thank you for your comforting reminder that this race is worth it. I want to live for the eternal reward from God, not the temporary approval of man.
“Of course, your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they slander you.”
I love this:“Sometimes people won’t come with us, but we keep moving, keep sharing, and keep bringing hope to those around us.”
The above is the most difficult part for me about becoming a recent christian. I have some family that mock me for my faith even though we were raised by our parents as christians. I continue to share my stories where God has worked miracles in my life in hopes that one day they will accept Jesus into their heart. I used to be one of them and my hope is that they will see God’s light shining brightly in my life and know that when they are ready he will shine a light of hope into their lives.
I have a christian friend who recently lost faith in God because her prayers aren’t being answered to heal her mother who has terminal cancer. She has gone almost a year trying to find a new job while she cares for her mother. She admits that it is a burden to care for her mother and that her mom going to heaven would relieve her of much stress and stop her mom’s suffering. Sometimes we struggle with God’s timeline for our life and we should trust that when the time is right God will make the change in our life.
Father, I pray that you would help us persevere in the face of misunderstanding. Help us endure when we are mistreated. Help us care about lost people as much as you do!…and that God would shine a light on my friends and family to give them hope, peace, and love in their hearts.
In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
I want to show others my chance but I am still a friend to my friends.. Jesus – Please show me how..
Lord, I pray for your passion in me towards the lost.
Thank you pastor
I like “join in his mission”. It’s why we’re here.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your grace, love and patience. Forgive me for the times I seek approval from friends instead of glorifying Your name. Give me the bold faith to speak of Your goodness, glorify your name in a way that stirs the hearts of those I speak with a desire to draw closer to You. In Jesus name. Amen.