They brought [Paul and Silas] before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.” (Acts 16:20-21)
Following Jesus is not for the faint of heart. While there are always positive things in every culture that Jesus-followers can support and affirm, every culture also contains things which need to be redeemed. This creates a dividing line which eventually leads to persecution by the culture for it deems the Christian stance as unacceptable and unlawful.
There is also a dividing line in every human heart. That lines divides what one will do from what one won’t, and the placement of that line is determined by our values and our relationships.
When we follow Jesus, the dividing line in our heart is moved by Jesus’ unconditional love for us. Common understandings of God being distant and remote were smashed by the God who came near to us. Deistic portrayals of God as a blind watchmaker who wound up the world and let it go on its own were turned on their head by the God who rolled up his sleeves and plunged his hands deep into the mire of our muddy mess in order to restore his once-beautiful garden. High and mighty gods don’t allow themselves to be stripped naked and nailed to a cross to suffer and die, but our God did.
Jesus has given you a new identity. You are now a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. Because your loyalty is to King Jesus, you can see the difference between what can be affirmed and what must be redeemed in our culture. Your King will always stand with you, so you do not need to be afraid when persecution comes. Your place in his kingdom is secure.
Dear Jesus, thank you for making me part of your kingdom. Help me to remember that you are always loyal to me. Help me to be loyal to you. Amen.