Saturday, March 26, 2011

Profession of Faith Day

For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him,” - Philippians 1:29
  While in seminary one of the references we had amongst students was that Jesus was crucified when he was 33, so turning 33 was referred to as reaching your messianic year or your crucifixion year.  It was a little unsettling to ponder as your 33rd birthday loomed: just what crucifixion was waiting for you in that year?  It was not intended to make light of the crucifixion, but I think it highlighted much more that as "on top of our game" as 30-somethings may feel they really haven't done much with their lives.

So this Verse of the Day pops up on Bible Gateway this morning and I'm stuck here thinking about: what does it mean that it's not enough to just believe in Christ but that we're "granted... to suffer for him?" It sounds almost like a right or, at least, a privilege.
Hundreds of thousands of missionaries and saints throughout history have set out into the world knowing that suffering and hardship could await them.   Another huge number of people have adopted vows of poverty and chastity in claiming their place on the Christian journey; something that appears like suffering from my vantage point.  But, how about the rest of us?  What suffering do most of us experience on behalf of our faith in Christ.  A friend and I were debating salvation and Christology yesterday and she made the statement that most people are ashamed to admit to believing in Christ.  If she is right, and we're too ashamed to admit we believe in Christ, then we have not even risen to the first part of this verse, much less the latter part involving suffering.

We don't live in a culture where our professions of faith get us sent to the arena or burned at the stake or crucified.  We MAY experience some ridicule from some circles of people in which we find ourselves, but does ridicule arise to the level of suffering?  I'm not so sure.  It's easy in America to blend in with everyone.  It's been a perpetual etiquette thing not to speak of religion, as it so often makes people feel uncomfortable or sparks arguments with hurt feelings resulting.  Yet, I'd offer you a challenge: just for one day proclaim it to be a "Profession of Faith Day."  Experiment with what being "out there" with your faith feels like.  Keep a journal of your experiences, feelings and what you learn about the belief and the suffering you've been granted by virtue of you claiming Christ as your Lord and Savior.

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