Sticks and Stones

Dale Carnegie wrote a classic book that's been a bestseller many times over. How to Win Friends and Influence People appeals to everything we desire. But what would we do with a book called How to Make Enemies and Receive Scorn? We might glance at it because of the title, we might buy it for the white elephant office party, but it's doubtful that we would make it the next book at our book club. After all, some of us don't need help making enemies!

But what if there's more joy in persecution than in ease? What if the tougher road leads to a beautiful vista, while the easy road is just a dead end? What if making enemies and receiving scorn is actually much more worthwhile in the end than winning friends and influencing people. Many years ago, John Calvin wrote:

Above all, it is  . . . the ordinary lot of Christians to be hated by the majority of men: for the flesh cannot endure the doctrine of the Gospel; none can endure to have their vices reproved.

The hearts of men and women will either be softened or hardened by the response of the Gospel. The message, "Love Wins," will either drive people further into hatred or drive people toward Christ who through His love for us enables us to love others.

When righteousness meets the immovable force of the evil in this world, there will be conflict. John Stott wrote, "Persecution is simply the clash between two irreconcilable value systems." And so, there are only two responses to a righteous life: persecution or conversion. In fact, if you live like Jesus, you will be persecuted like Jesus.

I wish it weren't so.

I sometimes with people would respond with indifference. But it doesn't happen that way. History shows the world has not been kind to the prophets and apostles and disciples of Christ. The world has not been indifferent with them. The world has persecuted and martyred them. But that should not stop the Christ-follower from living a life of righteousness.

Even though sticks and stones may break my bones, I still want the world to know, "Love Wins!"