And the Verdict Is?
"When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus"(Acts 4:13).
The crowd grows restless--some cheering, even more jeering--as you stand in a courtroom to hear the decision rendered by a jury of your peers. The evidence from witnesses and their recollections of events has been presented to determine your guilt or innocence.
Sternly peering down at you, the judge unfolds the jury's verdict in his hands. He clears his throat. And on the charge of your being a follower of Jesus Christ, he declares you...
As one of my bible study leaders often asked, "If brought up on charges of being a Christian, is there enough evidence to convict you?" Would a "jury" of loved ones, co-workers, church family-or fellow Monday morning commuters-find you "guilty" of such a charge? Be split in their decision? Or find you in contempt of court for duplicity-being two-faced?
His question pricks me every time I leave a rousing church service or a Bible study--and then get behind the wheel of my car, face difficult situations at work or home, or am alone with temptation. But it increasingly haunts me on another level: Christian persecution.
Throughout the ages, and even now, men and women have risked everything to share the Gospel message, smuggle Bibles, and worship with others--even while staring down the barrel of a gun!
As men and women in uniform, you are called to serve our great nation. Your service, especially during wartime, is challenging, exhausting, and difficult. Yet also rewarding, exhilarating--an honor and privilege. Christians in the military can uniquely serve Christ by integrating their faith with their profession.
The growing threat to our freedom to proclaim the Gospel is absolutely real! Faith in Jesus Christ may bring dire consequences--perhaps costing your life. Yet it is more critical than ever to stand tall in your faith. Christ has called us to run this race, and as we run it, to be BOLD:
B-Battle Buddy--Running this race alone is impossible. As Proverbs 27:17 exhorts, "Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." We must surround ourselves with Christians who will challenge, encourage, and dust us off when we fall.
O-Open--We must make ourselves available to engage with others, allowing the Holy Spirit to work through us to be quality witnesses.
L-Listen, Learn, Lead--Listen for the Lord's still, quiet voice. Listen to those around you. Learn Scripture so you can be competent in your witness when you learn of others' needs. Lead with compassion, exemplifying Jesus' servant leadership.
D-Discern--Through prayer, Scripture, and feedback from your Battle Buddy and mentors, understand how best to witness while looking for opportunities.
Be BOLD in your faith. Know who you are. More importantly, know Whose you are--Jesus Christ's own--redeemed by His blood! Do others know that by your actions, life, and witness? Let OCF come alongside you to help you finish your race strong!
This is my prayer for you in your race, "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the good news of God's grace" (Acts 20:24).
My question to you, is there enough evidence?