In the comment section of his blog, "Do we need another Luther?", Bino said, "I want to encourage all of you to stand firm in the freedom in Christ and resist the burden of slavery. Above all, I want to thank God from the bottom of my heart for revealing His wonderful truth to us!"
Encouragement is a gift that is sorely needed in the church. Several years ago, I read about an experiment that was done. The participants were divided into two groups and both groups were made to stand barefooted in tubs filled with water and ice. They were timed to see how long they would remain in the icy water before giving up. The first group lasted a very short amount of time but the second group was able to stay in much longer. The difference was that the second group had people on the sidelines encouraging them and telling them that they could do it while the first group didn't. I think this is a clear picture of the difference encouragement makes in our ability to go the limit in a difficult situation.
Yesterday, I posted a comment to a blog someone had written about worship. What I wrote was essentially what I posted in my "Worshipping out in the wild" post but it was shorter and had less detail. (By the way, this is a grace blog but it doesn't belong to anyone in our particular grace community of bloggers.) Anyway, someone else posted another comment today and basically hammered me. This particular individual wrote a lengthy comment and completely misquoted me. I was surprised at this reaction because what I said was mild compared to what others had said. I wrote a short response explaining what I had actually said and got hammered again. So, I wrote an even shorter response and told her I wasn't going to respond to her comments again.
I've got to admit this is all new for me. I'm the one that everybody likes. I'm the one who gets nods of approval and amens when I speak. A number of months ago, I read an article by Paul Anderson Walsh in which he said more people reject the message of grace than accept it. I was shocked so I immediately emailed my friend, Darin Hufford, to ask him if that was true in his experience. He wrote back and completely confirmed everything. He shared about how angry some people have gotten when he has spoken. I also remember Joel commenting in one of his posts that when he spoke about grace, he could look out and see the angry faces.
My experience and the comments of these dear brothers who are further along in understanding grace than I am makes it clear that the grace message of life and freedom is not necessarily a popular message. It may cause others to get defensive and angry. While not looking for the negative, we have to understand that it will happen. People will get angry and spew angry words at us. They may reject us because we've tried to tell them about a Father who loves them more than they will ever know. We have to expect it and not let it catch us off guard.
I think the important thing is that we continue to give love even if all we receive in return is anger and rejection. It's a difficult battle we will face as we learn how to live more deeply in Father's love and share it with others. That's why I so appreciate Bino's words of encouragement. There may be times when the pressure to give up gets strong and we feel ourselves weakening but when we do, let's remember Bino's words and allow them to encourage us. The days ahead may be filled with difficulty at times so let's be a people who encourage one another as we have opportunity.