Philippians 1:27b-28a – I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. (NIV)
Like many children, I was bullied at school by several people who loved to intimidate me on a daily basis. They would bump into me on the soccer field and trip me up deliberately, or they would gang up on me in a quiet corner and seek to terrify me.
It got so bad that I didn't want to go to school. My grades plummeted, and instead of being in the top ten group in my class, I sank almost to the bottom. My mom wanted to go and face my daily oppressors, but that would have shamed me even more. She wasn't mentally fit anyway, so I didn't think that she could make any difference.
Then one morning during recess, just as the bullies were coming to get their usual sadistic pleasure out of intimidating me, my mom appeared out of the blue. She verbally tore into them and publicly humiliated them. As I watched their faces get redder with embarrassment, I realized that they were just children like me. My mom gave them a dressing down, and the other kids in the school playground cheered her on. I guess that some of the other kids had been bullied by them too.
After that incident, things got better. I wasn't afraid any more, and got back into the top ten students in my class. The bullies' reign of terror was ended, and my mom became the heroine of my heart. Sadly, insanity and schizophrenia would expunge the incident from her mind, but even although it has been more than forty years since the event occurred, I still admire her for what she did for me that day.
These days, Christians are contending for the gospel in the face of persecution, harassment, imprisonment, and even death in many lands. Their undaunted faith is a living testimony to the truth of the gospel and the work of Jesus Christ in the world. Society sometimes seeks to diminish Christianity and make it irrelevant. But the more that we are philosophically and socially opposed, the more true Christians appear to contend for the faith of the gospel and stand up for Christ's holy words. We will not be bullied, berated, or beaten down.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, faith is a precious gift and one that the world desperately needs. All over the earth, Your church and Your people are being made to feel insignificant and irrelevant. We are told that we are intolerant by intolerant people. We are viewed as being reactionary by those who violently react to Your teaching. We are humiliated and harassed all over the world by brazen bullies and godless governments. Help and empower us to contend for the gospel, just as our brothers and sisters in our faith did so long ago. In Your sacred and holy name, we pray. Amen.
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