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People need hope more than ever. As followers of Jesus, we have this promise in Colossians 1:27.....Listen to Radio Podcast featured on Moody Radio April 17 2024 

Mark 206 - Because of Me

“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Mark 13:12,13

While sharing a picture of an elderly woman with their grandchild in a small group, someone spoke up. With tears in her eyes, she told a most moving story. She talked about her grandmother with tenderness as she recalled sitting in grandmother’s lap. Her grandmother would hold her tight, stroking her hair as she whispered truths that she held dear and precious to this day. One of the things that was whispered in her ear was.

“Beauty is only skin deep.”

She had to stop as she was overcome with sadness, missing her grandmother. There was a deep and reverent silence that gripped everyone in the small group. After a few moments, I broke the silence with a story of my own.

I talked about my grand mom. Immigrating as a teenager, traveling alone on a ship from Italy to America. She forged a new life for herself. Providing for and raising a family of nine children. She did all this and more, living through the Great Depression.

I then told my similar experience with my grand mom. She pulled me close and rubbed my curly red hair. Then, looking deep into my eyes, she told me something that has stuck with me all my life.

“Beauty is only skin deep.

But ugly goes clean down to the bone.”

Remember saying;

Sticks and stones

May break my bones,

But words will never hurt me.

Yep, it’s not just a lie, it’s a great BIG lie. Yes, you might not have physical cuts, bruises, or broken bones, but words of hurt and betrayal can cut deep emotionally. They can sear a deep branding scar that impacts the rest of your life.

And the thing that makes it worse is the closeness of the source. If a stranger says something, it’s easily dismissed. But the closer, the more familiar, the more intimate the person, the deeper and more intense the hurt.

Jesus describes how our family relations, those closest to us, will hand over family members. And not just to pay a fine, or to serve a prison term. No, this was betrayal that leads to their death.

But it gets worse. Jesus followers won’t just be hated by their families, but by everyone. And why will they be hated? Is it because of their political views? Or where they live? Or their ethnic heritage?

No, they will be hated because they follow Jesus. They will be despised because they have turned their backs on the world system of selfishness and turned towards God, following his greatest and highest instruction.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:30,31

You’d think that there’s nothing in these two “greatest commandments” that would get anyone all that upset about. After all, loving God doesn’t hurt anyone, or does it?

If we love God, then we’re going to live like he wants us to. The way he designed and made us. This requires giving up our opinions about how to live, and listening to someone else.

And this is where it hits the fan. If we love God, then we are going to choose him over everyone else. This means turning away from all the other ideas, philosophies, lifestyles, and religions.

In one sense, we will be very accepting and inclusive. Expressing love and care for everyone. If Jesus was willing to die for us when we were both sinners and enemies, then our love for people will be tremendous.

But in another sense, while we love people, we must express God’s truth and viewpoint about the self-centered world. When we live for God, we condemn the ideas of the world. When we speak God’s truth, no matter how hard we try, there are conflicting viewpoints. And we’re not just talking about whether a math problem is right or wrong. We’re talking about how we live. Are we in charge? Or is God? And, in the words of so many westerns, “Them’s fightin’ words.”

So, the question comes down to who are you going stand beside? Who are you going to believe? Who are you going to follow?

The choices might be clear, but they are not easy.

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