Devotional for Tuesday, May 12, 2020

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” (I Peter 4:12-13)

Surprised.  Surprise is the reaction that instigates shame.  On Friday, Robert shared his personal story from his youth regarding the intense shame he felt when his friends expressed their surprise of certain aspects of his home culture they were not used to.  Many of you can relate to his story from your past as second-generation kids living in the States.  I relate similarly through my experience as a missionary kid returning to the States every five years, albeit my reaction was to dismiss those relationships instead of trying to fit in.  In either case, there is a very strong tendency to minimize the shame of being a “foreigner” (however it is defined) at all costs.  But whereas acclimation may be a good practice for immigrants, it is a terrible idea for Christians!  Somehow, we are daily tempted to believe that the world and God’s kingdom are reconcilable.  We canNOT reconcile the two!  They are always completely opposing worlds.  This means that shame will always be felt during this lifetime, and we must choose!  Either we will be ashamed of God and acclimate into the world, or we will be shamed by the world and be pleasing in God’s sight.

Often in my fight against fleshly thoughts or emotions, I will almost whisper, “Can’t I just have a break?!”  That’s like asking your general if you can call a timeout for a holiday in the middle of all-out war.  (Just because this happened in WWI doesn’t mean that this happens in the spiritual world!)  No, we must not be surprised when we are shamed, even though others’ surprise leads them to shame us.  When they see us not join their slander of our co-workers or certain people in government, etc., they will be surprised, and will ridicule us.  When they see us make choices for family time instead of overtime at work or school, they will be indignant, and will shame us.  When they see us being honest and hard-working at work when the boss isn’t looking, they will be furious, and will shame us or even threaten us.  When they see us go out of our way to be kind to someone in need, they may mock us.  When they see us go out of our way to be kind and accepting to someone who took advantage of us, they will be stunned and will ridicule us.  So we let them be surprised by our redeemed lives, but let us not be surprised by their reactions!  We’re in war!  Every time we receive worldly shame because of Christ is evidence of two wonderful truths: 1) We belong to Christ!  And 2) God is using that very instance to gain glory for Himself through us – our lives display God’s holiness on earth.  That is why we are here, and that is why we rejoice!  So we need to live as foreigners, but without acclimating back into the world!  In fact, the world will be the surprised ones because they will see us try to get them (the natives) to become foreigners in their own land by accepting Christ into their lives.  What worldly shame can you anticipate coming to you today?  Don’t be surprised!

Posted by Luke Ellison on 5/12/2020