By Joel A. Hess –
George Atley was killed while serving with the Central African Mission. There were no witnesses, but the evidence indicates that Atley was confronted by a band of hostile tribesmen. He was carrying a fully loaded, 10-chamber Winchester rifle and had to choose either to shoot his attackers and run the risk of negating the work of the mission in that area or not to defend himself and be killed. When his body was later found in a stream, it was evident that he had chosen the latter. Nearby lay his rifle, all 10 chambers still loaded.
While we may not be surrounded by unfriendly natives, catholic Christianity is receiving an increasing amount of arrows flung by far more uncivilized and uneducated savages. Yet, unlike the sainted Atley who bravely put down his weapon, many Christians seem happier to shoot back.
Atley’s unselfish behavior witnessed to his enemies that he was confident in Christ’s promise and that he meant them no harm but in fact wanted them to enjoy the free gift of Life in Christ.
In Matthew 16, our Lord instructed his disciples that they too would carry crosses in this world. He didn’t tell them to beat people over the head with them, use them as publicity stunts, or whine “Woe is me” all the way to the gallows. Jesus connects carrying the cross to losing one’s life in this world. He makes it clear that living in Him will often times mean being rejected by the world. His disciples will likely be treated as fools, ridiculed by the establishment, and even killed. So, don’t be surprised or upset by it!
So often, Christians and Christian leaders appear astonished that they are carrying a cross. Christians spill crocodile tears over the fact that Hollywood propagandizes against them. They feign outrage on Facebook, twitter, and blogs about how the Christianity has lost its place of prominence in the West. There was no golden age where society and Christianity mingled wonderfully, so get over it!
Beyond whining, many Christians fight back and throw mean one liners and angry diatribes at their so-called enemies. Indeed, Christians are called to speak the truth and confront the lies of Satan, but the goal is to win over those who are lost, not defeat them and leave them bleeding on the battlefield.
St. Paul as great advice for Christian living in a militant anti-Christian culture: “Bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, leave peaceable with everyone” (Romans 12:9-21).
It was not long ago when we all were enemies of God. We all once were persecutors, slanderers living in unnatural lifestyles contrary to God’s Word. Like George Atley, God chose not to wipe us out. Instead, He dropped His righteous wrath upon His Son. Christ took all our arrows. He did not complain or whine but walked valiantly up the hill with our cross upon Him. God is no longer our enemy but our Father!
So, put down your Winchester and pick up your cross. Stop whining about it. They can’t harm you. You have forgiveness and eternal life. It will be OK.