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reflections on being a Christian man part 7
After I had an almost overpowering experience of God's Holy Spirit, I found those activities to be terribly difficult to enjoy. When the groups headed for the bar, I usually stayed long enough to be cordial, then excused myself and went back to my room. It didn't take long to hear the comments behind my back, which were meant to be insulting but only proved to be affirming to my behavior.
"Where's Jim?" someone would ask. "Oh, he's back in his room reading his bible - he's got religion now you know!" was a typical reply. Spilled blood? No, but certainly a form of suffering visited upon me because of my seeming anti-social behavior.
I survived and grew stronger in my convictions. St. Paul wrote to Timothy in his second letter to him [2Tim 2:3] "Share suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus." Soldiers need to be ready to suffer the slings and arrows of the enemy. Good behavior often requires supernatural assistance to maintain. We all want to be liked, to be a part of the group, to be recognized as a team player. I really had to stay 'on top of my game'. My performance had to stay near the top or I risked being judged adversely, not because of valid criticism of my work, but because of my counter-cultural behavior.
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews viewed the effort needed and the reward given. In the 10th chapter it is written, starting in vs 32 to the end of the chapter:
- 32 Remember the days past when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a great contest of suffering.
- 33 At times you were publicly exposed to abuse and affliction; at other times you associated yourselves with those so treated.
- 34 You even joined in the sufferings of those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, knowing that you had a better and lasting possession.
- 35 Therefore, do not throw away your confidence; it will have great recompense.
- 36 You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised.
- 37 "For, after just a brief moment, he who is to come shall come; he shall not delay.
- 38 But my just one shall live by faith, and if he draws back I take no pleasure in him."
- 39 We are not among those who draw back and perish, but among those who have faith and will possess life.
Most knew that I would be a gracious host to our customers, but not too long after the dinner, I would be leaving for home. One of our senior sales reps came to me and asked a favor. He said that one of the owners' secretary needed a ride home - she didn't want to spend the whole evening at the party, and since I was headed south of Detroit to go home, maybe I could drop her off en route. I graciously accepted.
I saw it as a way to leave earlier than even I thought I would. I knew the woman - a divorced single mother in her early thirties who appeared to have her act together - and besides, she was the personal secretary to one of the owners.
We arrived at her home in a very blue collar neighborhood. While she might have been secretary to one of the owners, she wasn't living high on the hog. She asked me if I would walk her to her door - a reasonable request living in this neighborhood. As she opened the door, she asked me if I wanted to come in. I declined. She got in a kind of a huff and said something like "What's the matter? You afraid someone might find out? I didn't become a 'private' secretary by not being able to keep secrets, you know."
I commented I was sure she was very good at keeping secrets but I needed to go home. She turned, gave me a quick brushing kiss on the cheek and said, "You're sweet...see you in the office tomorrow."
Tomorrow came. I hadn't been in the office long when the senior sales rep who asked the favor came in. He came over to me and started in. "The word's around already ... you blew her off - you absolutely blew it. I worked very hard to set you up and you blew it!"
Well, so much for innocence and naivety - I never suspected I had been 'set-up'. Hit on when I got her home I recognized, but I never suspected a set-up. Just another thing they could talk about around the water cooler that day.
There are lots of ways I can be called on to suffer for Christ. Sometimes it is not easy - but it is so necessary. If I am going to be a true Christian man, I may have to suffer for what is right.
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