Many years ago, when I was in high school, I learned an important lesson. In most classes, I would chat with other students near me, and we would be like study-buddies for the course.
Something happened, I think in a chemistry class, and I was shocked. I was a Christian, and I was struggling to find my maturity, as an adult. It was too easy to conform to “Churchianity” to keep my family and church happy.
Before the class started, one of my two Chemistry buddies told us what happened to him. He went to a meeting and someone told him he should follow Jesus, and he said yes. I think that was the previous evening. My friend was a new believer, and he seemed happy with his decision.
Our other friend was a bad boy. I will skip the details, but he was into things.
I was surprised but happy to hear the news. Before I said anything, our bad friend reached up and pulled on the cord for a window blind. Each blind had a cord with a hard piece of plastic at the end. He pulled down on the cord and started beating the new believer, whipping him with a hard plastic nob.
It was biblical, or historic. My friend decided to follow Jesus, and the next day he was flogged for his decision. Persecution started early for him.
So, here is a question: Who believed in Jesus? Who were the believers, in that story?
- I was, although I struggled to find a mature way to own my decisions.
- My new-believer friend was, no doubt.
- The bad boy was also a believer. Rejection is an expression of belief. He could have just shrugged and changed the topic, but he reacted violently because he believed and rejected.
That is still a lesson in maturity for me. Not all believers are followers.
That may sound strange, but this is a lesson we all need to learn. I recently heard a radio preacher talking about this, and it brought back some old memories. I think the preacher was Alistair Begg.
The preacher talked about a story in the Bible, when Mary and Joseph travelled with their twelve-year-old boy, Jesus, to the Temple in Jerusalem. They were met by a holy man named Simeon:
And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed.” (Luke 2:34)
“Fall and rising”. Jesus would divide people: Rise and fall – accept and reject, “A sign that is opposed”.
The radio preacher mentioned people who wear a cross upside down, to show their opposition to Christianity. When I think about it, I have never seen a symbol for Islam, or Judaism, or Hinduism worn upside down. No one places a Jewish menorah, a branched candlestick symbol, upside down, for example.
That treatment is reserved for Jesus.
And we have Darwin fish.
We probably all know the old symbol for people who followed Jesus, a fish drawn with two curved lines. Now, if you watch for bumper stickers on cars, some of those fish have legs and the word “Darwin.” It’s a rejection of the beliefs in the Bible.
I have never seen a distorted symbol of another religion, with the word “Darwin” and other religions teach that God, or a god created the universe and all life. Only the Jesus fish is distorted.
Have you heard the news about the famous singer M.I.A? She lived as a Hindu, and no one seemed concerned. Recently, she had a vision of Jesus, and decided to become a follower:
Possibly her career is over. She said, “Basically, all of my fans might turn against me because they are all progressives who hate people that believe in Jesus Christ in this country.”
Rejection is belief.
We are coming to a time when we all believe; for or against. When Jesus grew to be an adult, He told us about the end of our time in history, His second coming:
Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24: 30)
“all … will mourn.”
This is a lesson in maturity. In the end, we will believe enough to accept or reject, follow or oppose.
We live in a religious world.
I hope we choose to believe in the “follow” side.