Am I Willing to Be Counted Among Those Who Believe in Jesus Christ When It Might Cost Me Something?

Posted: May 29, 2015 in Gospel of Luke

Luke 23:50-56 — This passage is important for several reasons and we will spend a few days here. For today, we will talk about making the choice to be counted among Jesus’ followers. Tomorrow, we will talk about using our resources to honor our Savior. And finally, the day after tomorrow, we will look at why Luke paid so much attention to the burial of Jesus.

So, for today. Let’s talk about making choices. Let’s talk about standing up against the tide of popular opinion. There are times that we must make a choice. We must stand up and be counted. There are times that we must be willing to be singled out as Christ followers regardless of consequence or ridicule. When it’s crunch time, where will you be. Will you blend into the crowd? Will you hide like the disciples? Or will you stand up like Joseph of Arimathea? To personalize this passage for myself, I drift back to childhood and my teenage years at home.

This passage reminds me of times when I was living at home with my parents as I was growing up. My brother, God love him, was a bit on the socially awkward side. He was a highly intelligent little guy, a Sheldon Cooper of sorts. He didn’t understand social interactions and the nuances of such very well. He had no filter for his thoughts either. He was for all intents and purposes, the quintessential nerd. I was fairly smart guy growing up. Whereas I would make 5 A’s and a B and have to work really hard at it, my brother would make straight A’s and it was a breeze for him. My brothers lack of social skills and his ease with which he embraced academia made him an easy target for ridicule. You know the drill. The crowd would make fun of him. But, yet, he would invite it at times with his lack of social skills and such. Me, I was a crowd pleaser. I tried to blend in as much as I could. We were Methodist preacher’s kids so we were always the new kids so I became skillful at quickly blending in and making friends with those that seemed to be in the in-crowd. My brother just wasn’t like that. Therefore, there were many times in which I had to make a choice between the safety of the crowd and standing with my brother, my blood. More often than not, I chose the safety of the crowd and joined in the ridicule of my brother. When my father would get wind of it, he would let me hold it. He would say that family is the most important thing. When you don’t have anything else you have family. You should have the courage to stand up for your brother. I would argue with him that my brother invited ridicule. I would argue that he always had to let people know how smart he was and how dumb they were. I would argue that he would bring it upon himself. My dad would only have one response to all of it. He’s your brother. He’s your brother. He’s your brother. You must protect your family. I knew he was right. When the moving van would pull up to the parsonage to move us to the next town, guess who would go with me to the new town, my brother. Not the friends from the town I was leaving. It was my brother who went with me. Like him or not, he was my family. I must stand up and be counted as his brother even if it cost me everything and to me everything was my popularity at school, in our neighborhood, and among the church youth.

This is the place that I think we find Joseph of Arimathea. We know from each of the four gospels that Joseph was a member of the Jewish high council. He, up until this point had been a closet follower of Jesus Christ. But there comes a time in life where we must publicly identify ourselves with Jesus Christ regardless of the consequences or the ridicule. We also know from the Gospel of John that Nicodemus (who had previously met with Jesus under the cover of the night) joined Joseph in taking a risk. Both Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus put their lives and reputations on the line as they assist Jesus. Joseph of Arimathaea could easily have remained safely anonymous and securely on the sideline, but he found within himself the courage to do what the Twelve could not. I believe one of the most lacking things in American Christianity today is courage. As Martin Field says in his sermon at http://www.sermoncentral.com entitled Christian Courage,

“In this modern world…we are surrounded with and by those who insist on political correctness, moral relativism, and an all-options-are-the-same approach to faith. It is not easy to stand up as a Christian in many parts of our society. It is not comfortable to share ones faith evangelistically. It is not risk-free to buck the crowd or the trend or the current fad. It’s infinitely easier to go along.”

May of us are like the disciples, scurrying for cover when the heat is on. Many of us might be scared away by humanistic bullies who in the name of tolerance of all things are intolerant of anything to do with Jesus Christ. But Joseph and Nicodemus had come to the point that they could no longer blend in. They saw that the crowd was wrong and were willing to say I don’t care about my social reputation, my wealth, my position. I am going to stand against the tide. I will not wash Scripture away just to be a part of the crowd and to avoid ridicule. I will stand and be counted as a follower of Jesus Christ. The same situations present themselves to you and I today. Am I willing to be counted as Jesus follower when I encounter situations that are totally against God’s Word. Certainly, the first thing that comes to many a mind is protesting “Christians”, note the quotes, who spew hate while using the Bible falsely to support their own hatred. No, I am talking about when you are faced with situations where you must choose between God’s timeless Word and the ever changing and slipping moral landscape of man. Will you blend in and participate. If you were to lose your job because you had a choice between that which is morally right and that which is deceptive, what would you do? If I were among a pit of atheists that I knew would ridicule my belief in Jesus Christ as God in the flesh, would I keep quiet. What if you were placed in Jordan or Iraq right now as a Christian, how long would that last if you were being starved to death just for being Christian? What if you were living there and your 7 year old daughter was ripped away from you by ISIS radicals and were forced to watch her be raped and sodomized right in front of your with a gun to your head? How long would you and I be counted? How long would you and I be willing to be counted if you had a blade to your neck. These are extreme but real examples from our world today.

Even in the cushy comfort and wealthy excess (by comparison to the rest of the world), there is a day coming where it will cost us something to be a Christian. Where will you and I be then? If it cost you your freedom to show up at LifeSong Church’s community outreach events, would you? If it cost you your job to been seen walking into the doors of our church, would you? The days in which being a Christian in America was an advantage is at best neutral now and the days are coming in which it will eventually become a disadvantage to be counted as Christian. In our land of increasingly intolerant tolerance, there will come a day when you and must choose to be Joseph of Arimathea or Nicodemus or just blend in. There will come a day when you and I must be Mark that stands up for his brother or throw him under the bus. There will come a day when we must stand up and say I am Christ follower and I don’t care what it costs me. We are just temporary travelers here. We must begin to live our lives with our eternal home in heaven in mind. Take risks. Be ridiculed. Stand up for Jesus. Matthew 10:33 time is coming. Stand and be counted. I pray that there is enough evidence of my love for Jesus Christ that I am ridiculed for it by those who do not believe in Him as their Savior.

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