Philippians 1:27 Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.
I Peter 1:7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
Our church may be considered small in size, but we definitely are big in heart and spirit. Every year, our church goes all out for Vacation Bible School, and this year was no exception. Our theme this year was “Rome: Paul and the Underground Church.” On the first night of VBS, my role was to be a shop owner of the “Animal Sacrifice Shop,” and as such, it was my duty to pretend to be a non-Christian who was selling goats for sacrifice. I brought some of our fainting goats to use as part of the act. As the groups of children rotated to my “shop”, I began to ask who among them was a sinner, and stated with authority that I knew one of them had committed a sin. I informed them that they needed to buy one of my goats so that they could sacrifice it for their sins.
There was a young man in the oldest group, which consisted of fifth and sixth graders, who quickly informed me that no one needed to sacrifice animals any longer because Jesus Christ died on the cross and was resurrected. He explained that Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice. He shared the gospel with me from his heart with great conviction. I argued with him, and I told him that he was messing with my business as I relied on selling my animals to make a living. He quickly gave me other options including selling the goats for food, milk, or even pets. A little while into the conversation, I told this young man that he had convinced me, and that I wanted to follow this Jesus that he was telling me about. I told him that I wanted to be a Christian too, and assured me that he had persuaded me to believe.
Then suddenly, the Roman soldiers appeared. A couple of men from our church were performing the role of soldiers who were arresting Christians and throwing them into a makeshift jail. The soldiers approached our group and asked who among us were Christians. The young man who had just “converted” me was one of the first to say, “not me!” I looked at the kids, and said, “Come on, guys! You just converted me, but you are not willing to stand firm in your faith? We must stand up for Christ, and we must stand up for our faith.” A little while later, the kindergarten group rotated through to my shop. We discussed the buying and selling of goats, but we mostly enjoyed petting and feeding the goats. When the Roman soldiers appeared this time and asked the question, “who among you are Christians?” my barely six year old grandson yelled, “I’m a Christian!” And then he pointed to each individual in the group and bravely informed the soldiers that we were all Christians. He wanted the guards to know that we were Christians, and we were not ashamed of our faith.
I have thought about those interactions frequently over the past couple of weeks. Oh, I’m not shaming the young man that denied his Christianity to the soldiers. He is a child, and he is still learning. But rather, I would like to focus on the innocence of a child who wasn’t afraid to stand firm in his faith and announce to the world and Roman soldiers that he was a Christian. And I have to wonder if I was placed in a similar situation as these children, would I be the one denying my Christianity or would I be as brave as an innocent child and stand firm in my faith? I would like to think that I would fall into the latter category. I pray that I would.
There will come a time that our faith will be tested. Currently, I live in the good old USA where we are still allowed the freedom of religion. I have lived a fortunate life. I was raised in church since the week of my birth. I have never known a life in which I should fear my life if someone found out that I trusted Jesus. I pray that it never comes to that, but I fear that the day is coming. Our country is changing rapidly. Corporately, this country has turned its back on Jesus. We must ask ourselves, what are we doing? We will be tested. We will be purified as gold is purified in the fire. There will come a day in which we will be challenged. My question for you today is “will you stand firm in your faith?” If we are not standing firm on our faith, are we standing at all? Are you standing up or sitting down? Let us stand firm!