11-9-16 - Faith on Trial

Oh, how good it is to type “November 9,” to finally be on the other side of election day. I write Water Daily the day before it posts, so I am writing this blind. And maybe that’s a good thing… to live by faith means to believe in God’s goodness even though we can’t see around the next corner.

And faith is what Jesus is getting at in this talk to his followers. He is preparing them for the hard times to come, when the structures of their faith are torn away, and they face persecution from both Jewish leaders and Romans for their belief in Christ.

"But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name.”

He says they will be betrayed by family and friends and handed over, and, “some of you will die.” But there’s an upside: this will give them a chance to testify.

Then he says something strange: don’t prepare.
“So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.”

Defending our faith is something few of us will have to face. I have heard testimony from African clergy who have known bitter persecution and bombed churches and death threats. But most Christians I know are more likely to be mocked than persecuted for their faith. “Why do you bother with that?”

And what would you answer? What do you say when people ask why you believe in Christ? As the old saw goes, “If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Name some of that evidence.

We may not have to stand up for our faith very often, but there are occasions when we’re called to testify in other ways – to stand for justice, to speak truth to those who have the power to change things. Every American of faith is going to have a chance in the coming weeks and months and years to bear witness to the power of love in the face of division and rage, perhaps even violence. I don’t know what those confrontations may look like, but I believe we can pray for the filling of the Holy Spirit to be ready to stand for love and justice, humility and peace. We may not know what to say, but Jesus, who has promised to be with us through His Spirit, will be right there – and he can be pretty persuasive.

After all, it’s not our job to represent God, or even to make other people believe in God. It is only up to us to make the introductions, to speak of the love and truth we experience. The Spirit can do the rest.

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