One of the most difficult things to do in life is to stick to something when everyone around you thinks you are wrong. It sounds romantic to be a person of conviction but to actually do it when no one is applauding you, and they are all making you feel like you are wrong, is almost impossible. I said almost. Face it, we get weak when one person comes against us, and we almost convince ourselves we are wrong when 5 or 6 are disagreeing. What chance do we stand when everyone we know hates us because of our convictions and our beliefs?
Daniel and his three buddies is a great example for us from the Old Testament. They were Jews of great conviction, to the point of being willing to die for those convictions. The sticking point was always the same thing: there is only one God, Jehovah, and they would not dishonour him by putting anything or anyone ahead of him. First it was Daniel's friends who faced the price of this conviction; they were thrown into a furnace. Later, Daniel himself faced the lions as a consequence of his unrelenting convictions about Jehovah. All four of them survived by the grace of God but even if the had died they were willing to do it for the sake of staying devoted to Jehovah. In fact, one of the most moving moments in the Word of God was when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego responded to the king:
"O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." (Daniel 2:16-18)
Unadulterated love, admiration and dedication to Jehovah their God. The furnace was not a theory. Even as they spoke they could feel the heat from it.
As we continue to read through Jesus' instructions to the 12 disciples he was sending out, he slipped into a prophetic mood and began to talk of the future. What he said must have provoked a bit of fear in them, and it may do so in us as well:
Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me. (Matthew 10:21-22)
Jesus did not say maybe, he said we would be hated. If we live as he has instructed us to live we will be hated, not because we are confrontational but because love provokes hatred from the darkness. The darkness is confused about Jesus and whenever we are confused we become fearful. If you want to see an example of this, watch a few clippings from the tv show "The View" which you can find on YouTube. Watch how the one Christian on this women's panel gets attacked time and again as she stands for the truth. It may just be a show and they use this to produce more viewers but it still shows how the darkness responds to the light when the light is willing to shine. To stand for Jesus can cause divisions in family and can cause the world to turn against you. But let's finish what Jesus was saying here:
Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 10:21-22)
Stand with Jesus even if it costs you your life and you will have gained your life. What we see in the physical with Daniel from the Old Testament we also experience spiritually in the present. The Apostle Paul said that outwardly we may be wasting away but inwardly we are being renewed every day. Now there was a man of conviction, who went to the very end, no matter the price he had to pay. Whole cities came against him and, in the end, so did parts of the Church but Paul himself stood his ground. Paul lived the words the Holy Spirit inspired him to write:
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13)
If we are willing to be like Daniel and his buddies and declare that there is only one way and one God we will provoke hatred from the darkness. Jesus warned us and his disciples demonstrated it as each was killed by that darkness, with the exception of John. But the darkness could not touch what mattered most which was their heart. They stood for Jesus to the end and I pray that as the day of evil is pulled down upon our heads that we too will stand for Jesus and for the salvation of the world. Just because the darkness proclaims we are wrong does not mean we are wrong. Just because people call us names does not mean we are those names. Just because they hate us does not mean we can't love them back. Even our own family will turn away but that does not mean we can. He told us to stand so stand we must. Lord strengthen us with your supernatural love, that we would remain faithful to you to the end.