I was never one of the ‘cool’ kids at school. To be honest, I never really wanted to be! I was doing far better academically than I could ever imagine achieving socially. Yes, that’s right – I was a geek. A nerd. A smarty-pants. Or whatever else you might want to call it. But at least I was good at it!
The downside was that my classmates managed to find quite a lot of things to call it. Looking back, I am grateful to be able to say that I never really had to endure physical bullying, but the verbal version was all too common. I generally found that the best course of action was to keep my head down and try not to draw attention to myself.
You can imagine my concern then, when the optician told me that I needed glasses. I had avoided having my eyes tested for months, despite the gradual increase in my struggle to read the teacher’s board from the back of the class, and then from the middle of the class too. Finally, when I started to have problems even when I sat on the very first row, I had to admit defeat and go for a check-up. And yes, I needed glasses.
I thought this was a disaster! Such an obvious change in my appearance would surely attract the attention (and therefore the unkind comments) of all my classmates. But I had no choice. It was with some trepidation that I went to school, wearing my glasses for the first time.
Nobody noticed. Not a single one of them. It was only when one of our former teachers stuck his head round our classroom door to say hello, that he spotted the difference instantly. But otherwise, my glasses suited me so well that it just seemed entirely natural to everyone else that I should be wearing them. What a result!
I wonder whether we are sometimes tempted to be like this with our faith? So concerned about what people might say about it and how hurtful that may be, that we are delighted when nobody notices. We can then carry on being a ‘good Christian’ without having to endure any ridicule or rejection, simply by keeping our heads down and not drawing attention to ourselves.
But Jesus said to His disciples:
“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavour, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:11-16 (NKJV)
We are to be salt and light to those around us, and not to lose our flavour or be hidden – in other words, not to lose our influence upon our surroundings. Note that Jesus did not shy away from telling us about the resulting persecution; instead He was honest and upfront with us about it (v.11). Difficult though it may sound to rejoice and be glad in the face of persecution (v.12), it should become a more natural response when we understand that by standing out, others will end up glorifying God (v.16). Our great reward in heaven (v.12) will be to meet those who join us there because of the influence we have had on their lives.
You cannot simply keep your head down and go unnoticed!
Written By Alan Humphrey for YMI