–By Elizabeth Ahlman
Based on the readings in the Three Year Series B for Sunday, June 5, 2015.
And he said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak with you.” And as he spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. And he said to me, “Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants also are impudent and stubborn: I send you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD.’ And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them (Ezekiel 2:1-5 ESV).
Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt. Our soul has had more than enough of the scorn of those who are at ease, of the contempt of the proud. (Psalm 123:3-4 ESV)
A few years ago, when the “meeting house,” Die Bruecke, in Leipzig, Germany first opened, people from the surrounding community of Volkmarsdorf stopped by to see what it was all about. Not much was in place yet, but one of the very first things to go up was a crucifix on one wall. An older German gentleman walked in and scoffed openly. He turned to Alliance Missionary, Rev. Hugo Gevers, and derisively asked “Do you REALLY believe that?” When Rev. Gevers said that yes, he did, the man laughed again.
The world we are sent into in our respective vocations certainly has very little respect for us. From the relatively harmless, but aggravating Facebook posts to the argumentative friend, to the television show currently lambasting Christians, we are often confronted with those who would mock us and laugh at us. We are derided as stupid, deluded and behind-the-times. Recently, this derision of who we are and Whose we are has reached a fever pitch, especially in the United States, with unending media attention and support. However, it’s nothing new, and it certainly shouldn’t be unexpected. Yahweh outright tells Ezekiel that He is sending Him into a nation full of rebels. The Psalmist cries for mercy because of the torment of those who scorn God’s people, and Paul tells the Corinthians that he is experiencing hardships and insults (2. Corinthians 12:10). Jesus tells the disciples in no uncertain terms that there will be places that reject them, because He tells them to shake the dust of those places off their feet. In Europe, members of our partner church bodies have lived through the height of derision and mockery of the Church. They have been pushed to the outskirts of society. They have been repeatedly mocked and derided.
Not even our Lord and Savior was spared such treatment. He was shamefully mocked and derided as they whipped and beat Him. They set a mocking crown of thorns on top of His head and derisively threw a purple robe across His shoulders. As He hung upon the cross, they mocked Him at His most vulnerable hour, telling Him to come down and prove that He was God. Jesus endured the insults and the mockery, the scorn of the world, for us and for the sake even of the world which hated Him. As Christians facing scorn from many sides, we can take comfort in knowing that Jesus has endured it all for us. He strengthens us to endure. For Ezekiel, there was the comfort that God gave Him in promising that no matter what, the rebellious house of Israel would know that Ezekiel was a prophet. For the disciples who were sent out, not even the rebellious scoffers could stop them from proclaiming the message of Christ — you see, the Apostolic Ministry is still sent to all corners of the world. For Paul, he could say that God’s grace was sufficient and he could be content even in the face of insults and persecution (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
For us, God’s grace is sufficient. God’s Christ is with us. They can laugh away, but we will not be silent. We continue to be fed because the men who hold the office of the Holy Ministry do not shake the dust off their feet. We will continue to live in the vocations into which He has placed us and proclaim His Name and His salvation. The Lord will deliver His mercy, He will make good on His promises. The world will know that THE Prophet has been among them, and they will laugh no more. Until then, we endure with the help of God. We learn from our Christian brothers and sisters who have already endured so much, and we continue to call out for mercy to the God Who will always give it.
Let us Pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, grant us Your peace when we are mocked and ridiculed for Your sake and help us to endure so that Your Word of truth may continue to be spoken by us to a world which needs to hear it; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.