Stand Up

light in the darkness

Consider this scenario:

I’m pregnant, with a pretty huge bump now! My round belly is hard to miss and people clearly point out that I’m expecting!

I have this beautiful gift of a person growing inside me who I get to call my daughter. She has brought Carl and I so much joy already and has taught us valuable lessons before she’s even arrived.

But get this- I hide my bump away! I wear the baggiest, loosest clothing- all in an effort to disguise my bump and keep my pregnancy hidden!

Whaaaaat?!!! Crazy right?!! Makes me cringe just writing it!

I don’t do this by the way- just creating an illustration for you.

Or imagine this:

For Christmas you receive the best gift ever! Yet you keep it hidden away from everyone and don’t allow anyone to share in your joy of this amazing gift!

I was sat reading Matthews gospel the other day and enjoyed reading purely about Jesus, getting to know Him and the many great things He did in His ministry. Sometimes I think we get so caught up in church and everything else, that we neglect really getting to intimately know who Jesus is and living by His example- just saying!

I arrived at the section where Jesus chooses his twelve apostles and then sends them out, instructing them to go to the people who were lost, preaching that the kingdom of Heaven is near and instructing them to do just as Jesus had been doing; to heal the sick, raise the dead and force demons out of people- Not exactly your average daily instruction is it?! Boy am I glad this is still relevant today and that He still seeks the lost- you and I, and loves us unconditionally- blows my mind!

As I read on, he warns his apostles that they are being sent out ‘like sheep among wolves.…because of me you will be taken to stand before governors and kings… All people will hate you because you follow me’ (Matt 10:16 & 22)

I wonder how the apostles felt when Jesus told them this. I wonder how many were ready to run for the hills and back out at the last minute?! ‘Hang on a minute Jesus! When you said ‘follow me’ and called us to be your apostles, you didn’t mention any of this! This isn’t what I signed up for!’

Maybe they didn’t think this, but I wonder if any even experienced the slightest quaking in their boots- or sandals!

I reflected on my school days when I called myself a ‘Christian’ – which had become a throw-away term for me back then. Yet when the question came up in R.E ‘Who believes in God? Or ‘who doesn’t agree with evolution?’- My hand never went up! Instead my cheeks rapidly blushed and I cowered in my seat! Palms sweating and mind racing thinking about what the popular kids and the guy I liked would think of me if I put my hand up. So I remained hidden away in my corner and stayed quiet.

When friends used to ask me what I was doing on a Sunday, I would groaningly moan- ‘church!’ in a way that made it sound like this was my parent’s choice- not mine!

Even in the workplace, ‘Cheryl, you’re a Christian aren’t you?’– I would cowardly either point blank deny it or unassumingly nod my head then rush off to do something else in an effort to avoid any further questions.

Whaaaaaaat?! But that’s me being honest and for years, in many circumstances where I was challenged or asked about my faith- all of the above was my reaction, or lack of a reaction in most cases.

Can you imagine if I responded in that way with my pregnancy? ‘Cheryl, are you pregnant?’… I can’t even comprehend typing any other response than, ‘YES YES YES!!! I absolutely am! I’m 27 weeks, I’m having a girl and I absolutely love her to bits!! Let me tell you about how she’s changed my life already?!’

What if our reaction when we are asked about Jesus and our faith, is to run away cowardly, be so embarrassed that we just keep our faith hidden? We cover it up with as many distractions as possible. We play it down when others ask us about Him and what we do on a Sunday. We’re so bothered by; others reactions, what difficult questions we’ll be asked, who we’ll offend, lose friendships with or the affections of a guy we like, or risk being unpopular at school/college- that we point blank deny any connection with Jesus at all! – Crazy!

Would you keep a gift that you’ve been so freely given and more importantly- the one who gave it to you, a secret? We have been forgiven and are continuously showered in grace, mercy, love, compassion- all by Jesus Christ. Yet why at times do we feel too embarrassed to talk about Him, to share and talk about these blessings we’ve received with others? Why do we choose to stay hidden in the darkness with everyone else? I think it’s because we don’t want to rock the boat or be asked too many questions. There’s a big risk there that you might lose some friends, create a discussion with a work colleague you don’t want to have, be classed as the ‘Jesus freak’ – its just too uncomfortable. We don’t want to be the light in the middle of a room full of darkness- although this is exactly where we should be! Shining His light.

Matthew 10:26-27.

‘So don’t be afraid of those people, because everything that is secret will be made known. I tell you these things in the dark but I want you to tell them in the light. What you hear whispered in your ear you should shout from the rooftops.’

We don’t seem to find it hard sharing the good news of the great bargain you’ve just purchased or the amazingly priced all inclusive holiday you’ve just booked!

But sharing the gospel and talking about who you know- Jesus! How much you love Him, the unconditional love He has for you and how He’s changed your life- this seems just all too hard at times and far too easy to sit back and keep Him hidden?

Now am I on my own there? C’mon?! Can you honestly say that you’ve never had a brief moment where you haven’t shone your light for Jesus like we’re supposed to? You’ve played it down a bit, you’ve not wanted to discuss it ‘here’ -it’s not the right place. Or you’ll only discuss it with certain people? -not those who will challenge you and fire questions at you? Even ridicule you?

As I think about how I so excitedly share the good news of my pregnancy with anyone and everyone- I am challenged to think about if I honestly do the same for Jesus? The one who has blessed us with this sweet gift of a baby. Who has forgiven me! – a sinner! Someone who messes up time and time again, yet who forgives me without the condemnation of guilt and shame to carry round my neck by showering me with grace and mercy- who paid the price for me and all the times I’ll mess up in the future!

Why would I not want to share and tell everyone about Him? Why would I coward away? Why would I not want to tell everyone and anyone how he’s changed my life, with just as, if not more excitement than when I talk about my pregnancy!

My question is- will you? Next time you’re asked one of the questions above or any question about knowing Jesus, will you hide him away and disguise your faith? Or will you expose him in your life so people will not be able to help themselves but ask about him! Will you take a stand for Jesus and tell of the light He brings to darkness- the darkness you were in? Will you be afraid or stand firm knowing that he strengthens you and delights in you!

 Matthew 10:32

‘All those who stand before others and say they believe in me, I will say before my father in heaven that they belong to me.’

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