Repent Thy Rage. Remain in Thy Redeemer.
Wait, what? Repent?!
Yes, you heard that right: Repent. Even when slandered, insulted, betrayed and falsely accused, we are called to examine the sincerity of our faith and humbly/honestly confess to God any hint of anger or bitterness against anybody. I understand that this is so hard to do especially when we feel like there is no reason for the “victim” to repent. But faith is not based on what we feel but on facts.
We are to forgive as the Lord forgave us (Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13) and remember that we have done the same things to Jesus (Romans 2:1). He loves us very much, but instead of loving Him back, we have neglected, betrayed, doubted and dishonored Him many times.
Sure, a servant of God may justify the many hurts he has experienced while walking with Jesus, but no one can ever ever understand what it is like to be opposed, betrayed and persecuted in the most undeserving way besides Jesus.
Even after healing many sick people, He was made fun of and mocked (Luke 23:11). He was even accused of being a heretic (Luke 23:2) and demon-possessed (Matthew 12:22-32, Luke 11:14-23). Even after feeding thousands and caring for the losts, people stripped Him naked, placed a scarlet robe on Him to mock Him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set in on His head. He was spat at and His head was struck again and again with a staff (Matthew 27:28-31). Even after all the miracles He performed, we chose a well-known criminal (Barrabas) over Him (Matthew 27:17).
Even after repeatedly telling us that we should come to Him because He is the way, truth and life, we still crucified Him on the cross. And while at the cross, He was sneered at by people saying, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” (Luke 23:35-37).
Yet in His holy nature, He did not consider Himself a victim but a victor. Yet in all that He suffered because of our sins and rebellion, even with His precious blood, He still cared for us so much. Therefore, a believer of Jesus who is experiencing/has experienced slander, insults, betrayal and false accusations from people must not fix his eyes on their hurtful words but on Jesus.
Not on ourselves and our hurts but in Christ and His finished work at the cross.
I remember watching a documentary last year about the unimaginable torture, persecution and deprivation of Christians in North Korea (see: “North Korea has the deadliest level of Christian persecution in the world”). I was in tears while watching the video. It was like seeing Jesus and His disciples in this modern age.
Many Christians in North Korea are forced to bow down to other gods or else they will be put to death. Christians in North Korea, even if they are heirs of the Christian communities from before the Korean War, if found to express any form of Christian faith (even in private), are not only deported to labor camps as political criminals or killed on-the-spot, their families and loved ones (up to the third generation) will also share the same fate.
There is a part in the documentary that I will always remember. It is when one of the North Korean Christians interviewed said: “There is only one answer: the love and grace of Jesus Christ. North Korean Christians pray that their family, friends and neighbours would discover Jesus. They even pray for those who persecute them. They pray not that bad things would happen to Kim Jong II but that he would also discover Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul was once a man who persecuted Christians, too. We truly believe in a God of miracles.”
My mind was blown away. I mean, not to invalidate any feelings of hurt but, what should I complain about, right? These people look unto God and see Him as a God of miracles and as a God who said that we should pray for our enemies and those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). These people look unto God despite all the brutal things they are going through because of their faith.
If you are wholeheartedly serving God and people slander or falsely accuse you, you are blessed! You are sharing in the life of Christ, thus you must rejoice!
Jesus told His followers ahead of time that they will be persecuted in His name. In John 15:21a, Jesus says, “Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.”
He even tells those who are persecuted for His sake that they are blessed!
Matthew 5:10-13 ESV — “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Jesus knew beforehand that Christians will be insulted, mocked, slandered and persecuted in every form because of their faith. But Jesus was firm in telling His followers to stand firm in the faith until the end.
Recently, in a Bible study time with my ate Vivian and Marilyn, we went through the chapter of 1 Peter 3. God tells us through this passage the things that Christians should remember when they suffer for doing good.
1 Peter 3:9 — ”Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”
1 Peter 3:13-14 — “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”
1 Peter 3:16-17 — “keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”
Then at the end of the chapter, I was again reminded of Jesus.
1 Peter 3:18 — “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.”
Jesus was right there reminding me again that I should not be afraid of slander, insults, betrayal and false accusations. Instead, I should be grateful because I am walking in Him and through Him who is loving and just. The next chapter, 1 Peter 4, even concludes:
1 Peter 4:13-15 — “But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.”
Let us rejoice in the Lord. What a privilege it is to share in the life of Jesus!
All glory to God.