Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sticks and Stones

How many people do you know who, after getting arrested for nothing, stand an unfair trial on trumped up charges, are beaten, then released, rejoice? Probably a few people would. But who would rejoice, not because they were free, but because they were able to go through all that? Who would be happy to have experienced that? I can think of plenty of people who would be happy that it's over, but not happy that they were imprisoned, beaten, and inches from death. But, that was just what Peter and the other Apostles did. After being arrested, the Spirit of the Lord allowed them to escape the prison, which further enraged the Sadducees. They were then taken before trial, where the council were trying to think of how they could condemn them to death. Then one of the Sadducees, named Gamaliel, spoke some reason to them, reminding them of people who had popped up and convinced people that they should follow them, and after they had died the people left, then he said "And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God." He tells them, hey, if they're just talking, who cares? But, if they're actually men of God as they claim, killing them won't end well for you. The council agreed, allowing them to continue on their way, so sure that Jesus wasn't the Christ, and that this would all eventually just go away. But, they couldn't just let them go. They beat the Apostles, and still forbade them to preach in the name of Christ. So, off the Apostles went "rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name." 
Wow. Who would be so happy about such a terrible ordeal? Who would walk away from that thinking "Yeah! We got to suffer, be beaten, imprisoned, and almost killed... all for Jesus!" I know when someone yells at me, flips me off, slams a door in my face, calls me a wicked man, condemns me to hell, calls me a blind leader of the blind, or any other mean thing that happens to me on my mission, I get upset. Well, I laugh, but I'm still a little upset. I certainly don't rejoice that I was able to be yelled at or whatever for the sake of my Savior. That's something I need to work on. 
"10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."
Is this something that you do? When someone says something negative about your faith, about the Church, or about the truth that you know, do you rejoice? Are you glad that you were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name? It is a sign of patience, a Christlike attribute, to be able to bear these adversities. It is also a sign of humility that we take these things in stride, realizing that our friends, our brothers and sisters, are lost and don't know the truth. If they persecuted the prophets and apostles of old, and even our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and they all bore it with gladness, with patience, and even rejoicing, why can't we do the same? We're not being stoned, beaten, wrongly imprisoned, tortured, or crucified. We're just having some mean words thrown at us. We all know the old adage "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Well, as corny as it is, it's true. When we're given the opportunity to suffer shame for His name, let us rejoice in it! 

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