Our dedication to Christ makes us look like fools, but you claim to be so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are so powerful! You are honored, but we are ridiculed. Even now we go hungry and thirsty, and we don’t have enough clothes to keep warm. We are often beaten and have no home. We work wearily with our own hands to earn our living. We bless those who curse us. We are patient with those who abuse us. We appeal gently when evil things are said about us. Yet we are treated like the world’s garbage, like everybody’s trash—right up to the present moment. – 1Corinthians 4: 10-13 (NLT) I have often written about how astounded I am when Christians react to the world poorly for behaving as we should expect the world to behave. The Bible says that the things of God are utter foolishness to them. The things of God are spiritually understood and they are lacking the Holy Spirit. Telling them they are wrong is not going to save them beloved. Yelling at them, stamping our feet up and down, or being as abrasive, is not going to save them. We must remember that what we find offensive is due to the fact that Satan has blinded them to the truth. They are on the outside of salvation looking in and we might be the only witness they get to be brought to the foot of the cross. What do we do with that opportunity may very well determine where they spend eternity. That said, one does not need to look far to find the continuing devolution of society and how it is being played out in classrooms across this country. Recently, a Wisconsin Elementary School promoted a “Gender Bender Day”, where students were encouraged to come to school dressed as the opposite sex. When some outraged parents complained, the school changed the name of the day, but refused to cancel it. The Principal said he saw nothing wrong with it and it was the decision of the students to hold the day. In North Carolina, a first grader was told to remove a reference to God in a poem she had written about her grandfather for Veterans Day. The line “He prayed to God for peace. He prayed to God for strength” apparently angered another parent, who complained to the school. The school then caved in and had the child remove the line from her poem. In Massachusetts, a public school serving middle school through high school age students put on a blasphemous play called “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told.” This play portrays many of the people in Genesis as homosexual. Despite protests, they refused to cancel the play. These are just three recent stories that we see all the time now across this country. We can expect this to only increase as the hour draws near of Christ’s return. What we do in the face of it will determine whether some are saved or not. Because it is easy to be outraged. It is easy to look at stories such as this and feel as if we are being made to look like fools because of our dedication to Christ. This brings us to the key verses today from Paul’s first letter to the Church at Corinth. Foolish, ridiculed, and weak. Treated like the world’s garbage; like everybody’s trash. While these things are to be expected, I want us to focus on how Paul says we are to respond. First of all, we are to bless those who curse us. Jesus taught this principle as well: “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. – Matthew 5: 43-48 (NLT) The world teaches us to only bless those who treat us kindly or in some cases, only those that we can get something from. It is a conditional blessing based upon ourselves. It is a selfish mindset. The Godly mindset however considers others as better than us, regardless of how they might treat us or view us. I love the question about how would we be any different than anyone else? That is at the core of this mindset beloved. We are supposed to be different than everyone else. People are supposed to look at us under persecution and see Jesus, not selfishness. Remember, the reason they are so opposed is that they are spiritually blinded and THAT is the real issue. Secondly, we are to be patient to those who abuse us. I believe this speaks to the human propensity to react first and deal with the consequences later. I know I used to have a terribly reactive nature. It takes time, prayer, and discipline to be able to not react, even in the face of something you know is wrong, and defer to Christ. And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. – Ephesians 4: 26-27 (NLT) Yet invariably there will be the angry Christians coming out of the woodwork whenever stories like the ones highlighted earlier surface. Demanding that the world stop “persecuting” them. Never understanding the true nature of persecution. In other countries Christians risk their lives by saying they believe in Christ. People are still being martyred for the cause of Christ. That is persecution. The stories reviewed in this devotional are sad. They are sad because they speak for where our society is in relation to a God who is coming back soon to judge them. It is sad because God will not be mocked. So when we feel that anger welling up inside of us, we must remember it is like being angry with a blind man for not knowing where he is going. Lastly, we are to appeal gently when evil things are said about us. Paul is acknowledging that we do not have to lie down and become a carpet for people. I say that very cautiously because I have heard too many Christians use this kind of rationale for being angry and reticent with a lost and dying world they are supposed to be a witness to. If we feel that what we are facing is so egregious, we are to appeal but do so gently. Not with wrath, condemnation, or rage. Gently. If you are a parent in one of these districts, you should complain as a parent about the proper role of schools. Not screaming at people that they are going to hell. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. – Ephesians 4: 31-32 (NLT) And Christ is willing to forgive them as well. He is willing to forgive them as He forgave us. But someone has to show Christ to them. Someone has to be willing to bless them as they rain curses down. Someone has to be willing to be patient with them in the face of abuse. Someone has to gently appeal if any appeal at all is made. Someone is supposed to be different then all they see around them. That someone is you. That someone is me. May God give us the strength and wisdom to represent Him to this lost and dying world. Rev. Anthony.