Summary: As a Christian Jesus encourages us to see that we should expect trouble...but fortunately our life is neither shaped by trouble or stopped by trouble.
When you sense difficulties how do you react?
When you sense problems what is your response?
Maybe you are like this bloke
Jeff was happily carrying a box of photocopier paper through the office,
when out of no where jumped his friend Fred
Instantly Jeff jumped
The box of paper went flying
And Jeff runs away with his hands in the air, surrendering..
He just gives up…
Or perhaps you are like Jenny
Jenny is at a party carrying a glass of champagne
Someone throws a real looking toy spider in the air and it lands right on her glass
She automatically panics
Throws the glass in the area
Then standing in the boxing position she looks to take on the evil person who has just scared her witless.
So when trouble happens how do you respond to trouble?
Are you a person who surrenders?
or are you a person who fights?
These are the two most common responses to trouble for many people
They are also common responses for Christians who experience trouble
They either give up
Or they become very attacking.
Yet when we open the scriptures we see Jesus encourages to have a better, more healthier response to trouble.
Now before we go into this healthy response to trouble, we need to address something that some Christians
even some of us, don’t always recognise.
In today’s reading from Luke
Jesus highlights that as Christians it is guaranteed that we will face troubles.
That is right, if you are a Christian you will encounter trouble, because of your faith.
It is important to recognise this.
It is important to tell people exploring the faith, preparing for baptism and even those being renewed in the faith to know this important fact.
That if you are a follower of Jesus, you will encounter trouble because of your faith.
Some years ago, I was preparing an adult for baptism
Everything was going well
They were enjoying discovering more about Jesus
The more they discovered, their relationships with their children and husband was improving,
But in the week leading up to the baptism
they came under severe attack
a good friend started saying they were nuts and started attacking Christianity
their mother said she was not coming to any church to see her daughter be baptised
her husband felt threatened that he would have to give up his Sunday mornings and became quite grumpy with her
then little thing went wrong,
she injured her ankle.
Two days before the baptism she rang me.
I could sense that almost immediately she wasn’t her happy bubbly self.
She wasn’t completely down, just frustrated.
And she pastor you know when you told me to expect attacks leading up to my baptism, I thought ahh sure, you are a little weird..
Well they’ve happened!
But I am so thankful that you explained that being a Christian does not mean your life is going to comfortable and peaceful all the time
And that you will encounter difficulties because of your faith.
But even more importantly I am thankful that you have encouraged me to trust Jesus during this time, because as Psalm 23 reminds us he walks with us even through our most difficult times.
The reality is fellow disciples of Jesus
Jesus is very upfront with us.
He stresses on a number of occasions that the Christian life is not an easy life.
We therefore should expect difficulties.
We therefore should expect troubles.
We should even expect persecution because of our faith.
Now imagine that as a slogan,
come join our church, be baptised
and you will be opposed, persecuted, betrayed and experience trouble.
The book, The heavenly man, is the story of Brother Yun
An active Christian who lives in China
For much of his life he has been tortured and imprisoned for sharing the Christian faith.
But these attacks have not deterred him.
In fact he saw the imprisonment as an opportunity to help both prisoners and prison officers get to know Jesus.
As a result Brother Yun is one of the leaders of a Christian house movement, which is a rapidly growing movement, seeing thousands of Chinese people being prepared to follow Jesus, even though they risk losing their incomes, families and freedom.
But not only this Brother Yun is the leader of an organisation called back to Jerusalem, who gets involved in dangerous evangelistic projects, including putting Christian bibles into the hands of members of ISIS and developing disciples in the strict country of North Korea.
For Brother Yun and many like him, trouble is not a sign that they are doing the wrong thing, but they expect trouble to arise when they are doing God’s work.
What about you?
Does trouble stop you in publicly being a Christian?
Do you worry what might happen if you share your faith with others?