How to Get Heaven's Applause  


    #TomBrady in Superbowl 51 has fought and won his battle for validation. His win against Atlanta had nothing to do with air in a football. It was about the character in the man.  And maybe some help from above.

    Validation by worldly standards comes by applause and awards. Jealous critics may voice complaints, but overall the world rewards its heroes. For Christians, validation comes by a harsher hand. Jesus said, “If you belonged to the world, then the world would love you as its own. But I chose you from this world, and you do not belong to it; that is why the world hates you.... If people persecuted me, they will persecute you too;” John 15:19-20 GNB

    The word persecute used here carries the connotation of being pursued and of suffering. Jesus’ sufferings included mockery, criticism, lies about His identity, character, purpose and motive, then beatings and death. Jesus wanted His followers to know that there would be no congratulatory handshakes from the world’s arena.

    Sitting on a mountainside, Jesus concludes a litany of sage-worthy sayings with two sentences that may have seemed odd to a people expecting their Messiah to deliver Israel from Rome. 

    “Blessed are they who have been persecuted for righteousness sake! For theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all kinds of evil against you falsely, for My sake.” Matthew 5:10-11 MKJV

    Jesus speaks of a kingdom, yes, but it is in heaven. He speaks of blessing, but to those who have been insulted, lied about and persecuted. In verse 12 He instructs His followers how to respond to this type of suffering.

    “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for your reward in Heaven is great. For so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

    Rejoice and be exceedingly glad. This is your validation, Jesus taught them. This is the sign of success. Peter says this, “ Happy are you if you are insulted because you are Christ’s followers; this means that the glorious Spirit, the Spirit of God, is resting on you. If you suffer, it must not be because you are a murderer or a thief or a criminal or a meddler in other people’s affairs. However, if you suffer because you are a Christian, don’t be ashamed of it, but thank God that you bear Christ’s name.” 1Peter 4:14-16 GNB

    It is not the passive, compromising believer that draws the wordly ire. The popular view of Jesus is that He promoted tolerance. The truth is He promoted mercy. There is a difference. Jesus did not tolerate sin, and no one, high-born or low, could escape His standard of holiness.

    This standard is high, fixed and unyielding. But the same God who is the Maker of the standard is the Giver of the solution. And there is only one solution. There is one way, Jesus taught.

    It is to speak the standard and of the solution that invites the mockery, the insults, the lies. It is the teaching of them, the believing of them, that brings the beatings and the deaths.

    To really be like Jesus is offensive to the world. We can’t change that. We can change what we think of it.

    Tom Brady can’t help being one of the best quarterbacks in football history. He can’t help it that he made SuperBowl history. He is just living out his values and work ethic. His critics wish he would fail. Quit. But Brady is not about to quit. 

    Neither should we.

    Are you tired of being the moral freak in school? The intolerant Bible-believing creeper? Are you sick of your co-workers thinking of you as narrow-minded, out of touch, uneducated, a right-winger? A (gasp) evangelical Christian fundamentalist?

    Take heart and rejoice! You have God’s stamp of approval.  Heavenly applause, please.



    Image by Skitter Photo courtesy of StockSnapi.o


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