I have a friend who inflicts punishment on me by forwarding emails decrying the state of our nation. A recent email focused on difficulties followers of Christ are experiencing in academic settings, lamenting the discrimination to which they are subjected.
Now I don’t for one moment question whether or not discrimination of this nature is occurring, of course it is. I’ve personally known folks who have come up against a brick wall in academic settings because of their faith in Christ. Nor do I reject the notion that we ought to do what we can to alleviate these things when they do happen; to try to change policies, to try to reason with the unreasonable and those with an anti-Christian bias – after all, these represent opportunities to share Christ.
On the other hand, rejection and discrimination and persecution are what we are called to when Jesus Christ is Lord of our lives – we are called to be identified with Him in rejection, reproach, and death; if not physical death, certainly death to self (sorry Joel Osteen and company…well…not really sorry).
This this leads me to Hebrews 11:26, where we are told that Moses considered, “the reproach of Christ of greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.”
Why is it that the emails referred to above don’t rejoice and glory in the opportunity to suffer for Christ? More importantly, why is it that the Western Church fails to value suffering and rejection for Jesus?
Consider the text of Hebrews, Moses didn’t just reject the riches and luxury of Egypt; Moses considered the reproach of Christ as a treasure, as a great treasure, as greater riches than what Egypt had to offer.
Whatever Christians may lose in this life because of fidelity to Jesus Christ doesn’t compare with what they gain, as Paul writes in Romans Chapter 8, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us.”
Why then do we not emphasize the glory of rejection, the glory of discrimination, the glory of reproach for the sake of Christ? Certainly that is the Biblical emphasis, the Biblical trajectory, the Christocentric perspective in such circumstances. Consider Peter’s words, “If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”
Peter also writes, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously…”
We might also think about witnessing. Few Christians witness. Why? The common answer is fear of rejection. Yet, I am unaware of any witnessing curriculum that explores, let alone emphasizes, the fact that we are called to share the reproach of Christ and that that reproach is of far greater worth than anything this world has to offer.
Do I consider the reproach of Christ of greater riches than anything this world has to offer? What about you?