Saturday, September 10, 2022

Never Trample the Cross. No Matter the Cost.

They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help us! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people and our law and this place.”
– Acts 21:13

During China’s Boxer Rebellion of 1899 and 1900, Chinese insurgents killed hundreds of Christians in their efforts to drive Christianity out of China. I have heard the following story about one of the many massacres that took place. The story may be embellished, but it’s based on historical fact. Insurgents captured a mission station that housed around a hundred Christians. They locked all the gates but one, and in front of that one open gate, they placed a cross flat on the ground. The people inside were told that any who trampled the cross underfoot would be permitted their freedom and life. Anyone refusing would be shot.

Terribly frightened, seven students trampled the cross under their feet and were allowed to go free. But the eighth student, a young girl, refused to trample the cross. She knelt beside the cross in prayer for strength. Then she stood up and shuffled carefully around it, and went out to face the firing squad. Strengthened by her example, every one of the remaining students followed her to the firing squad.

What would you have done if you’d been inside the mission that day? I’ll tell you what the Apostle Paul would have done: He would have prayed, walked around the cross and boldly shared the Good News of Jesus Christ until they put a bullet in his head. Regardless of what persecution came his way, Paul refused to stop telling people about His Lord who saved him. He didn’t steer clear of persecution. He faced it head-on. It was true when he was out on the mission field. And it was equally true when he stood before his fellow Jews in Jerusalem.

After finishing his third missionary journey, Paul and his missionary companions arrived in Jerusalem to celebrate the Day of Pentecost. They were received warmly by the Christian leaders in the Jerusalem church. But after several days, some of Paul’s critics from the province of Asia showed up and made a slew of false accusations against him.

A mob formed, dragged Paul out of the temple and tried to beat him to death. Immediately a military commander arrived with at least 100 soldiers, and the rioters stopped beating Paul long enough for the soldiers to arrest and chain him. Then, as the soldiers carried Paul up the steps leading to the barracks, Paul made a strange request to the Commander. Most prisoners in Paul’s sandals would have yelled, “Get me out of here!” But instead he asked, “Please let me speak to the people” (Acts 21:39).

Wow! Paul REALLY loved Jesus. And he REALLY loved his fellow Jews—even the ones who wanted to tear him limb from limb. The commander reluctantly agreed. So, bloody and bruised, Paul stood before the angry crowd and shared his beautiful testimony of how he met Jesus and what Jesus had done in his life. But as soon as Paul mentioned God sending him out to the Gentiles, the crowd erupted again.

What can we learn from this passage?

Life Lesson #1: Even when you live your life with absolute integrity , some people will still misjudge and falsely accuse you. God calls you to live a life of integrity anyway. During his first week in Jerusalem, Paul went to great lengths to demonstrate that he wasn’t Anti-Judaism, Anti-Old Testament or Anti-Temple. But he was false accused anyway. It happened to Paul, and if you are following Christ well, sooner or later it WILL happen to you.

Life Lesson #2: Whenever someone gives you the opportunity to trample the cross of Christ to save your bacon, hold fast to the cross, and surrender your bacon. I ask again: What would you have done if the Boxer rebels had threatened you? And what would you have done if the nationalists in Jerusalem had threatened you? We know what that young Chinese Christian girl did. And we know what Paul did. May God find you and me faithful to do the same—no matter the cost.

Life Lesson #3: Prejudice comes at a high price. It makes us deaf and blind to the truth that can set us free, both in this life and in the life to come. Bible commentator John Wade writes: “The tragedy of this situation [at the temple] was that prejudice against the Gentiles … prevented them from hearing the rest of Paul’s message. Had he been allowed to continue, there is no doubt that he would have conveyed to them the good news of the gospel, the good news that God has offered salvation to all men. Prejudice of any kind exacts a high price, but none higher than the price that these men paid.”

Let me say this plainly: There is no room for prejudice in a Christian’s life. Whether it’s prejudice because of the color of someone’s skin, someone’s social status or because of who someone associates with, there’s no place for it in a Christian’s life. EVERYONE needs Jesus. Therefore, God has called us to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with everyone: Jew and Gentile, young and old, male and female. We are called to tell ALL people in our lost and dying world: “You’re a precious creation of God. You were carefully and lovingly knit together in your mother’s womb. God knows EXACTLY who you are, and He has a PERFECT plan for your life. And if you’d like to know what it is, let me tell you about His Son, Jesus Christ.”

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on YouTube or Facebook. Dane’s latest book, “Called to Persevere: One Man’s Journey to Overcome Pain, Disease and Disappointment with God,” is scheduled for release on Amazon in October.

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