But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. 1 Peter 3: 14-17
I was led to this verse yesterday morning, during my devotions. Immediately I thought, Yeah, I totally understand that.
Each of us has different high school experiences. You may have focused your attention more academically, maybe steering clear of the social spectrum; while others found it less enticing, maybe even difficult, to dive into the books. Likewise, some of our experiences were smooth and positive; others were not. Mine was that of much struggle. I won’t degrade my experience to total awfulness though, as it shaped my life and my future.
I was raised in a Christian home – one which I don’t take for granted, even though, then at times, I found it strict and undesirable. Looking back you always see things differently. My parents have been my two pillars. Their devotion to God and to each other and their example is what led me to receive God’s gift of salvation. I accepted Jesus into my heart when I was just seven years old. Even at that young age I was called to walk in a close relationship with God.
It must have been evident, though I didn’t recognize it, that I was different. I stood out, especially when I reached high school age. It caused me to be a target for ridicule.
Many times – oh, so many times – the same few kids would torment me for my behavior; my faith, really. There were many other things they used to tease and make fun of me for but they were persistent about trying to get me to swear, almost to the point of tears. “Just say __________.” “Come on, just say it!” “It’s because you’re a Christian.” “You don’t do anything wrong!” “Goody two shoes!” They would harass me in mocking tones. I began to hate those three words: “goody two shoes”! At the time I thought I’m not perfect; why do they think I am? I wasn’t trying to be perfect. I was raised to be obedient to my parents and to God. It was simple – no other reason.
This is what “goody two shoes” means in the urban dictionary:
“A person (almost always a female) who tries to be as good and “clean” as humanly possible. She is more often than not a staunch conservative and takes pride in her virginity and her practice of abstinence. She is definitely a God-fearing girl who always goes to church every Sunday, and indeed, based on the way she dresses, she looks like she’s going to church every day. She cannot abide it when people cuss in front of her – the most extreme goody two shoeses faint when hearing foul language – and of course she would never consider smoking, drinking, doing drugs, or having any physical contact with a boy beyond holding hands or perhaps a kiss on the cheek. Can be nice but eventually begins to lecture you about your “sinful” lifestyle and just becomes a pest.”
Looking back, I was probably viewed as that exact “definition”, and they were mostly correct.
I wanted so bad to be socially accepted by my peers that even years after I graduated I strived to be nothing like I was in high school. I began corrupting my thought process with boy, if the ones from high school could see me now and I’m nothing like I was in high school and wait until they see that I drink alcohol and that I’ve tried smoking, etc. Some, I suppose, would term that as rebellion. Whatever you call it, it was clear I did not have a Biblical view of Christlike behavior or the accurate view of God’s love for me!
The Bible verse at the top of this blog hit home with me. I always looked at my being ridiculed as somewhat of a curse. I didn’t want to stand out. I wanted to blend in – to be accepted by those around me. But what didn’t register with me growing up is that as believers we are called to be different. We should not be like the world.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world. 1 John 2:15-16
By this we may know that we are in Him: whoever says He abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which [Christ] walked. 1 John 2:5-6
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2
Our actions, speech and attitude should reflect that we are believers. We should stand out. A lot of us are familiar with the children’s song:
This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
This world is in darkness –blinded – but we are the light of the world. Light and darkness are contrasting. They should be opposite in word and deed.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16
Do all things without grumbling or disputing that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish, in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. Philippians 2:14-15
Our focus then switches from living of this world, pleasing man and striving for love and acceptance from the world, to living for and pleasing the One who created us. We have a purpose – a calling – and it is not living for man or ourselves. We were designed to bring glory to God. If we are so absorbed in our love for God and pleasing Him, our lives will reflect it.
So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:10-14
To walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, is everything the world is not. In this worthy manner, we will not be accepted by the world. We will be tormented and persecuted. We will be insulted for wearing Christ’s name on our heart.
Peter says in 1 Peter 4:14, 16, 19:
If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
Blessed? If we are insulted for our faith, we are blessed by God.
I like what my study notes in my Bible says about this:
“To be insulted because one belongs to Christ is to be blessed by God, because in such times the Spirit of glory, the Holy Spirit, rests upon believers in an especially powerful way. Further, it is the same Spirit that rested on Jesus who now rests upon the believer.”
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. Isaiah 11:2
We may be persecuted. We may face horribly painful and traumatic events. Or endure daily trials and challenges. But we have assurance that we will be given, by the Holy Spirit, all that is needed to endure.
Furthermore, our citizenship is not here on earth. So whatever we face, whatever lies ahead, is only and always temporary. As believers, we can have comfort and peace knowing that God will call us home to spend an eternity with Him.
One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Philippians 3:13-14,20-21
(If you do not know where your eternity lies, I would be more than willing to share with you how you can know my God and know for sure you are headed to heaven!)
Above all else…seek God first. Seek His will. Seek to please and glorify Him.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31