An Opportunity for Growth

Written by Nick Blue / April 2018

There will be a time in every Christian’s life when they will be face to face with an opportunity to spread God’s loving Word. Whether it comes up casually in a conversation with a co-worker, or a close friend is interested in your beliefs. Unfortunately, more often than not, it’s difficult to try and talk about your faith or share your opinion from a Christian perspective. There’s always the fear of being ridiculed and laughed at. This fear of persecution is something that will continue to be there until God calls us to be with Him.

During my time going to public high school, I was faced with many of these challenges and opportunities. My first few weeks there, people were curious about who I was and were asking me plenty of questions, one of the main ones being, “Where did you go to school before here?”. I would tell them about my time going to Messiah in Hales Corners, and the short time I spent at ILC. For the most part, people were satisfied with that, but there were still those who felt the need to make fun of the new kid. I was labeled as “one of those weird religious kids”, and given some nicknames that I’d rather not share. It never went beyond the name-calling, but it was still emotionally not easy to deal with. I didn’t notice it at the time, but I began to not bring up my faith as much. I unconsciously stopped looking for those opportunities, and started to go with the flow of the world around me. It wasn’t until I graduated that I noticed how far off track I had gone.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” – 1 Peter 5:8

The devil is cunning and cruel, and will try to trip us up when we least expect it. He will try to get us any way he can. It could be a classmate who constantly harasses and makes fun of us, or our own sinful desires that makes us think “it can’t hurt if it’s just this once, right?”. We are told to be sober and vigilant. This means to be self-disciplined, to think rationally, to be alert to the spiritual pitfalls of our daily lives, and to take appropriate steps to make sure we don’t stumble.

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” – James 4:7

We are not told to run, but to resist. God is greater than our enemy, and victory comes through faith in Him. The devil has already lost, and God is in control of all things in this world, and throughout eternity.

However, this makes it sound like something that can be easily accomplished for us. Just simply resist the devil and everything else will fall into place, right? That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Luther’s Third Article couldn’t put it any better, “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him.” By ourselves, we are powerless to resist the devil and would all perish eternally in hell. Nonetheless, Luther’s Third Article goes on, “But the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified, and kept me in true faith.” On our own, we can’t do anything. But thankfully for us, we are never alone. Christ has already won the victory for us, and we can take comfort in knowing that we are saved.

There are still going to be countless times throughout our lives when we don’t share God’s love with those around us. No matter how good our intentions are, we will always fall short. That’s a consequence of sin that we will have to live with throughout this earthly life. Despite our shortcomings, God in His love sent His Son to save the world from sin and death.

“[God] saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…” – 2 Timothy 1:9,10

In the bigger picture, my time in public high school was a blessing in disguise, and I didn’t notice until it was over. It’s these kinds of tough experiences that help us grow as Christians in faith. There will absolutely be times that we will feel persecuted, but as long as we put our faith and trust in God above all things, we will get past those tough times and grow from them.