Reflecting on our times of prayer over our city this past summer, as well as considering how the Spirit moved at our recent trip to Tahkodah (see here and here), and believing how the Spirit will move in our upcoming Christmas Party for The Children’s Homes, it is obvious where God is calling us. I was reminded of this great quote from Justo Gonzalez, and hope this inspires and convicts you today.
The good news does not at first sound so good: ‘they will arrest you and persecute you …. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death’ [Luke 21:12ff]. This sounds so alien to us! Persecuted for being a Christian? Rejected by family and friends for our faith? Yet the truth is that more Christians died for their faith in the twentieth century than in all three centuries of persecution under the Roman Empire.
And the truth is also that, while many of us experience a certain malaise about the apparent decline of Christianity (or at least of our ‘mainline’ and respectable churches), throughout the world Christianity is growing by leaps and bounds among the poor and the disinherited, many of whom know that their faith will not make things easier for them — it will probably make things more difficult.
What then about those of us who are not poor or disinherited, whose religion makes us socially respectable, whose mainline churches are the moral mainstay of our communities? If all that [the gospel of] Luke says about the great reversal is true, there is only one way open to us: solidarity. The Pharisee cannot suddenly become a Samaritan. He is who he is. The only alternative left to him is to act like the good Samaritan. The Pharisee cannot leave behind his faith, his piety, and his obedience to the law. The only alternative left to him is to join ‘sinners’ in their pain and their trust in God. … Those of us whom society considers respectable ‘mainline’ Christians must understand that the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the promise and hope of the great reversal, make the very phrase ‘mainline Christian’ a contradiction in terms — that the very name ‘Christian’ requires being at the sidelines, at the margins where people suffer and are exploited and ignored. This is the proper consequence of genuine Christian hope …
From Justo Gonzalez, in Luke: Belief, a Theological Commentary on the Bible.