If you want a sure sign that blessing is upon you, then look no further than Christians rejoicing when people utter evil against them. As we labor on for reformation, one indicator that we are actually advancing will be Christians getting spat upon. And the confirming sign that reformation is underway will be that Christians cheefully sing a little ditty while being spat upon. The only way to sing amid disdain is to believe and obey what our Lord taught, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:11-12).
On occassion something out here in Moscow catches the attention of the American Evangelical community. Not too long ago a few of the saints here were arrested while participating in a psalm sing. Only a few months ago, Christ Church was downtown singing Christmas carols and someone blasted a wretched sound through a loud speaker in an unscucessful attempt to shut down the Christmas cheer. I have experienced a few more of these sociological events. Once while walking out of the church offices, which are on main street, a cyclist rolled by greeting me with a “Bleepety bleep you and your church!” Fairly recently a young woman walked by in broad day light and spat upon the front doors of the church offices. And I was walking down main street the other day and saw a cardboard sign in a second story window that read, “Kirkers are Fake Christians.”
Every now and then, I will receive a question from an evangelical friend that runs along the lines of, “Why in the world do people say so many mean things about you Christians out there in Moscow?” To which I often reply, “The question we ought to be asking is why are people not saying more mean things about Christians?” They called our Savior the prince of devils. And Jesus himself told us that they would call us more, not less, “If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household” (Matthew 10:25)? If Jesus has told us that the world would call the members of his household more than the prince of devils, then what does that say about us if we have pristine reputations?
Now there is a bit of a learning curve for your average reformed and evangelical Christians in the states. The seasons do change (Ecclesiastes 3:1). And we are transitioning from a season in which the Christian ethic and worldview was generally accepted to one in which they are scorned. This being the case, it is time to thoroughly acquaint yourselves with what faithful Christianity looks like in a fallen world. 2 Timothy 3:12 says, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Now what are the implications for us if we have lived out all of our days and not suffered persecution? There are outliers. Some of you have lived your whole life in a small town of five hundered people with a one-room school house named, “Mount Zion Education Hall” where the teacher reads from the Holy Scriptures and the Westminster Shorter Catechism is recited each morning. But for the rest of us, it is past time to wrestle with the fact that Jesus said faithful Christians would be reviled and many among us know nothing of the world’s contempt.
In the other direction, there are an increasing number of Christians who are being spat upon. But their inclination is to be shocked and bent out of shape by it. These defensive evangelicals are stressed out and gripping everything in sight. They are worried and frustrated, not cheeful. And being all worked up, they are soft targets for manipulation.
The secret ingredient to cheefulness amid the world’s disdain is found in Romans 8:33. There the Apostle Paul says, “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” Justification is the language of the court room. God sits on the bench. There you are in your sin. There you are in your rebellion. And in walks Christ. The perfect Christ. And God declares, “Christ and his righteousness for this poor sinner.” And he pardons all of your sin by legally transfering the very righteousness of Christ to your account.
So the question is: If God himself has justified you, who in the world can condemn you? And the answer if of course: Absolutely nobody. They may indeed spit upon you. We should not be caught off guard by this. They spat upon Christ when he hung on Calvary. And now they will spit upon his body, the church. But when you know that no one can condemn you, then your blood won’t run so hot when people try to condemn you. Indeed, you will be able to whistle a little tune, and be cheeful when the spit on you.