We have been looking at Luke 18 the past few weeks and talking about how we act as Christians, as well as how we treat others and interact with others. When I read through Luke 18 and look closely at the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, I am saddened by how I act in my day to glorify Christ. I am saddened by how the majority of people in the United States that profess to be Christians act in their days as well. I fully believe in Christ as my savior and do everything I can to glorify Him throughout my day. When I call myself a Christian, it is because I believe in Christ and want to follow Him through every detail of my day. I don’t believe the same is true of many people who use the term Christians.
It saddens me to see many people in my city, county, state and country that use the title of Christians, but have no intention of devoting their life to following Christ. They use it as a shield, a blanket or a crutch to feel better, but are they really Christians? Only God knows the answer to that. I look at a story out of Acts 17 about Stephen. Stephen is being persecuted for his beliefs, is about to be killed and spends his last breaths praising God, glorifying Christ and tell people to turn away from their sins and follow Christ Jesus. After the crowd had listened, they were even more angry and began to stone him to death. Then one of the most beautiful verses in the entire Bible occurs:
“And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ (Acts 7:59)
As Stephen was being killed, he takes some of his last breaths and asks Jesus to receive his spirit. Wow. Stop and think about that for a moment. I think of all my brothers and sisters across the world that live in fear of persecution every single day because of their faith in Jesus Christ. As I am sitting in my warm house in my safe neighborhood, in my even safer city, it saddens me that I don’t take advantage of every moment of every day to live out my faith in the same capacity as Stephen. Stephen preached about Christ to a crowd that was ready to kill him, and when he was done telling them about Christ, they did kill him, but he died knowing he did everything he could that day to glorify Christ and follow Him wholly.
What about you? If you were in this same situation of persecution, how would you react? My prayer is that the title of Christian isn’t used as just an empty title, but a heart filled statement of faith and dedication to Christ. My hope is that as we think about Luke 18, I don’t want to be a Christian who looks down on others, but loves others just as Christ has loved me and humble myself before the foot of the cross. Jesus spent His time with sinners and loved them unconditionally. My prayer is always that I love others, but stand firm in my faith through all situations of my day, and if I were to be persecuted for my faith, my last breaths would be spent telling people about the glory of Christ and giving my heart to Him until it stops beating.