So I want to start today’s devotion with a short story. The past two weeks or so I was in China on a business trip. While there my local guide/coworker asked me if I was a Christian and went to church. Now I don’t know about you, but whenever I have heard about persecution of the church I think about the countries in the 10/40 window, including China, where Christians have been very persecuted. This always leaves me with a bit of anxiety in the back of my mind while I am in China. When my guide/coworker asked me this I paused for a split second and was reminded of a passage from Luke 9:23-26.
“23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”
So I unashamedly told him about my church and explained some very basic parts of church to him. He then told me about the government’s attempted control of churches in China and the persecution that he knew of. It wasn’t much, but I tried to bring up church with him a few other times during my trip. I hope that I helped to plant a seed as we looked at yesterday in Luke 8, we’ll see. I encourage you to never be ashamed of Christ and to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” 1 Peter 3:15.
The other part I want to look at is a passage that I find funny, but it also can hit close to home. It is Luke 9:51-55. As Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem to die for the sins of the world he tried to stop in a village, but the locals did not welcome him, so the disciples asked Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven just like in the good old days, and he rebukes them and they move on. The disciples asking Jesus to nuke a town of people that he is ready to lay down his life for is so jarring and odd that I find it funny at first. I’m sure the disciples looked back on this moment in later years and shook their head, and laughed at themselves. I remember praying for silly things when I was less mature, and then wondering why the things I prayed for didn’t happen. If you ever feel like you are a little out of sync with God, that is OK, even the disciples missed the mark sometimes. But I encourage you to work hard at figuring out where your worldview differs from God’s, by reading the scriptures, praying, and asking for advice from more mature Christians. Maturity and wisdom take time and perseverance to develop.