“You will receive power when the Holy spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NIV)
THERE ONCE WAS A MAN who was a new convert to Christ and His teaching. This man held a job where he had been employed for 20 years. Once he became a Christian, the Lord started doing some housework in his heart, sweeping out the dust and cobwebs, discarding the trash, and washing the windows.
Each morning the man came to work with a smile and a greeting for everyone — even on Mondays! He noticed the contributions his co-workers made and dropped compliments their way, focusing on work-related items and carefully avoided personal areas, like appearances, for example.
His new attitude was noticed.
Most people liked the difference. His supervisor commented on it, and co-workers said they liked working with him. Oh, sometimes he was in a grumpy mood, and people noticed that, too, saying how unlike him that was.
Everyone seemed to like the “new” person, not the “old” person left behind.
WELL, NOT EVERYONE.
There was at least one person who set a bead on him.
“Hey, come over here,” the person called out. The two men found themselves outside the office in a nearby park. The new Christian obliged. “There’s an athlete we know who’s a religious nut. People hate him.”
“Really?” The new Christian replied. “Why’s that?”
“Well, he wears his religion on his sleeve. People don’t like that.”
“Huh,” the new Christian replied, thinking a moment. “Well, I guess I do like that. I find it refreshing. You know, what I don’t like is the way so many athletes — and other celebrities — use their status to get away with things the rest of us couldn’t.”
“Like what!” the accuser said. “You’re crazy.”
“No, not really,” the new Christian said. “How many athletes have abused their wives and their girlfriends, or how many have taken bribes, or had speeding tickets fixed, or cheat on their families.”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying that so many athletes lead a privileged life, and we buy into it,” the new Christian said. “I would much rather see an athlete — or anyone else in public life, for that matter, like an entertainer or politician — use that platform to testify to God’s grace in their lives. So many folks in public life worship the adoration they receive. It’s an addiction for them.”
The accuser stared at the new Christian, cocking his head slightly to alter his view.
The new Christian continued: “The athlete that you mention is using his fame and his privilege to give the glory and praise where it belongs — to God — and I like that.”
The two men stood there a few minutes more, each checking his watch. Both had to return to work, but neither was eager to leave the conversation.
Something more needed to be said, something that was hanging in the air, waiting for recognition, and then it came:
“Religion is a private affair,” the accuser said. “You shouldn’t push your religion into someone else’s face.”
The new Christian’s thoughts immediately went to Scripture. He thought of:
- John 3:19-21, where the apostle John writes that men who love their evil deeds hide from the Light of the world, which is Jesus.
- Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8, where Jesus tells His disciples to go into the world and preach His truth.
- Matthew 5:16, where Jesus exhorts His followers to let their light, their good deeds, shine before men.
- Romans 10:14-15, where the apostle Paul tells his listeners to spread the message of Jesus’ love.
“My friend,” the new Christian began, “I can point to numerous verses in God’s Holy Word that testify to our need to witness for Him in our daily lives. I wonder, since you say religion is a private matter, if you can cite to any Scripture that supports your view that God’s calling in our lives is to be kept a secret.”
The accuser stared at the new Christian for awhile, then shook his head and walked away.
After a few steps, he turned and mumbled, “You don’t get it,” and left.
Saddened, the new Christian took a different path to work, needing a few moments of prayer to regain his strength and steady his nerves. He thought of 1 Thessalonians 5:17, which exhorts us to remain in prayer, and Romans 8:26, which promises the Holy Spirit’s help in translating our sighs into words to present to the Father.
How had this altercation come about, the man wondered, his steps slow and measured. Had he said something that offended someone? Was he now a marked man? Would he need to watch himself carefully around work colleagues? This certainly was not the day he had anticipated when he came to work.
He knew the apostle Peter had reminded Christ’s early followers in 1 Peter 3:15 to be prepared, when they were asked, to give a defense for the joy in their hearts and to do so with gentleness and love.
The new Christian knew there would be another day to talk with his accuser, and he prayed the Lord would prepare him for that moment and would give him the right words to say, as the Lord promised Moses (Exodus 4:12) and Jesus’ disciples (Luke 21:15).
He knew this: Faith in Jesus Christ is different from faith in Las Vegas. What happens in Las Vegas stays there, but what happens in one’s life with the Lord does not stay there; it travels with us wherever we go.
It marks who we are … and more importantly, Whose we are.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, we are so grateful that You are a loving and merciful God who sent Your only Son to die the death that is our just reward, to pay the price for our evil, and to set the way for our restoration into Your Light. Help us to fight the discouragement we feel when others fail to see the the Truth of Jesus; give us the strength to handle their accusations against us, knowing they are rejecting You and the One who sent You. Give us the words to say and the heart to live the Gospel and to be ever ready to share a witness. We lift this prayer in Jesus’ Name. Amen