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Accepting the stigma

In several places in the gospels, Jesus mentioned the word “cross”. This
didn’t refer to the wooden cross he bore for our sake at the end. In fact
whenever he mentioned the word cross it was referring to the cross that we,
as his disciples, would bear. It is actually this very cross and the fact that we
bear it that marks us as His true disciples. Let’s see this from God’s Word:

Luke 14:25-33
“And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto
them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife,
and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot
be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come
after me, cannot be my disciple. ….whosoever he be of you that forsaketh
not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”

Matthew 16:23
“But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an
offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those
that be of men. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come
after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow
me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever
will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”

Matthew 10:33
“But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my
Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I
came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance
against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in
law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own
household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of
me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not
worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life
for my sake shall find it.”

2 Timothy 3:12
“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

Looking at the above we can see that following Christ may brings us at
odds with society, with those with whom we are familiar – even with our own
parents or children. As unpleasant as this may be, it is Christ we should
follow. In fact no man can be a disciple of Christ if he has not taken up his
cross, accepting and bearing the consequences of being a Christian.
It is especially important to heed at these words and to make a deep
decision in our hearts that we will follow Christ and God’s Word whatever the
circumstances may be. That we will believe the Word of God regardless of
what men and their philosophies and theories may say. It may not be pleasant
to the flesh to do this. We all may want to be acceptable by everybody, but
sometimes, when it cross the Word of God this may not be possible. We must
not step back and retreat but we must bear the cross holding to our faith.
What is stronger? What is more valid? Men, their theories and opinions or the
word of God? Men’s theories come and go, but God’s word remains. I’ll give
you an example: in our time and in our “Christian societies” almost everybody
that is not a Christian believes that the world came out of nothing and evolved
out of its own. Is this what the Word of God says? A tour in the first chapters
of Genesis shows that this is not so. It is God that created everything. Hebrews
summarizes it as follows:

Hebrews 11:3
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God,
so that things which are seen were not made of things which do
appear.

What the world says (evolution) comes in stark opposition to what the
Word of God says. What do we as Christians do? Very simple: we believe the
Word of God! If God says something then we believe what God says! The key
word here is “believe”, “through faith” as Hebrews says. Seeing is not
believing. Instead by faith, by believing it is like we have seen it. Does God’s
Word says it? If yes we believe it, without caring about what people say. But
we may be ridiculed by the others. We may be laughed at and we may be called
with names by others that because of our faith considers us fools. Well, this is
our cross. As R. T. Kendal says:

“every generation of Christianity has its own stigma by which the


believer’s faith is severely tested. For example in the first generation of
the church it was to say that Jesus of Nazareth is the fulfillments of the Old
Testament. This was particularly the stigma which the Jews accepted when
facing the establishment that upheld Temple worship. Around the turn of the
first century the cutting issue came to be whether to praise Christ or Caeser…
In Luther’s day it was whether one was justified by faith or works. These are
but a few examples .. for I could go on and on. The most hotly contested
issue of any day is that which is true but which also makes the
minority view look foolish and makes the believer look a fool1”

How would it be if we were around Luther’s time and stood up for


salvation by grace? We would be called foolish, and called with names there
too. But there too we would have stood up for what the Word of God says,
bearing the cross, accepting the stigma. What I want to say in this article is
simple: bear your cross. Believe the Word of God 100%. Accept it is as the only
authority for your life. Do not water down the message to make it compliant
with what society says. Do not give up on what God says in his Word for
essentially just to gain acceptance by others. Many Christians have done this.
Many Christians when it comes to Creation versus evolution for example –
that’s one very hot issue of our times, may be the hottest, that makes the
believer look fool – have chosen to water down the message and compromise
their faith. The will believe both in evolution and in Creation by God. This is
not thought what the Word of God teaches. You don’t have to have something
proven to you in order to believe it. You have to find it in God’s word in order

1
R. T. Kendal, Believing God, Authentic classics, p.17
to believe it. Does the Word says it? If yes believe it, if not don’t believe it,
regardless of what others – we call them “experts” – may say. This is a child
like faith and this is what pleases the Father. A child like faith to what the
Father says.
Here are some more verses to help us see that being a disciple of Jesus
Christ does mean accepting the possibility of being persecuted (this may
meant physically persecuted in some countries and in some ages, and/or
ridiculed and made look fool, like in our time and in Western societies). They
also show us what we should do:

2 Timothy 3:12
“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

2 Timothy 4:2
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove,
rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will
come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall
they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn
away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

Romans 1:16
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God
unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the
Greek.

John 17:14
“I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them,
because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”

1 Corinthians 15:19
“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”
1 Thessalonians 3:3
“That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that
we are appointed thereunto.”

John 12:43
For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

Whose praise do we want at the end? Do we want God’s praise or man’s


praise ? I don’t say that sometimes you cannot have them both: leaving in a
godly way does mean loving your neighbor and doing good and people may
praise you for this – though it should never be your motive. But there may be
times where you cannot have them both. When people ask you what you do in
the mornings and you tell them that you read your Bible, you are risking to be
laughed at. So what? When there is a talk about evolution and you say that
God created everything, you are risking to be called fool. So what? When you
say that Christ is the only way the truth and the life you are risking to be called
exclusionist. So what? When you are reading your Bible or a Christian boom
in the plain or in the buss, you may catch some that look at you strangely.
What the Bible says is at stark opposition to what the world says. It was always
like this and I believe it will continue to be like this till the Lord comes back.
What you and I have to do is just to choose to whom we will turn our back.
Will we accept the stigma, take up the cross and follow Christ or we will water
down the message, wanting to have both the acceptance of men - or not to be
made look fool - and the acceptance of God?

Mark 8:38
“Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this
adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be
ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Luke 12:8
“Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the
Son of man also confess before the angels of God. But he that denieth me
before men shall be denied before the angels of God”
Rom 1:16
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God
unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the
Greek.”

It is a sinful generation that NEED what you believe. Let’s not water
down the message of the gospel, the treasure we have, just to avoid the
consequences that go with it. Instead let’s take up the cross and follow the
Savior that was revealed to us.

Tassos Kioulachoglou.