But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 1 Peter 4:15-16
"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me."
That's not entirely true, at least, if you are one of the five members of the University of Southern Mississippi pep band.
During a recent NCAA basketball tournament game these five called out, "Where is your green card?" to a Puerto Rican lad who was playing for Kansas State. Not only was the line offensive, it also showed a fair amount of ignorance, since none of the five realized Puerto Rico is a Commonwealth and natives need no green card to stay or work in the U.S.
But I've wandered. As I said, names can hurt. The five students have lost their scholarships, been removed from the band, and are going to undergo a two-hour cultural sensitivity class. As Southern Mississippi's vice-president for student affairs said, "This is a teachable moment."
Agreed. And it is also a teachable moment for us who know Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
It is teachable for us because it allows us to remember there are still a great many places where calling someone a "Christian" is a terrible insult. Indeed, there are entire countries where wearing a cross is a crime, witnessing to what the Lord of life has done for sinners is strictly forbidden, and being converted to faith in the Savior is a capital offense.
It is a teachable moment because it allows us to recall that while many things in this world change, the devil still does all he can to stop the Savior's story of salvation from being shared with lost sinners. That's why Peter warned his fellow Christians to glorify the Savior when they were persecuted.
Lastly, it is a teachable moment because it lets the unpersecuted remember the trust the Lord has placed in them. In thanksgiving for what we have been given, we ought to
• conduct ourselves as representatives of the Savior in every and all circumstances;
• pray for the spiritual strength of those who are suffering because they call Jesus, "Lord";
• do our best to ensure our religious freedoms are not destroyed or eliminated by the enemies of the cross.
You see, my friends, we are not responsible for what has happened in the past, and we are not entirely responsible for what will happen in the future, but this is our time to share the Savior with the lost of this world.
The world may not like it when we proclaim Christ crucified and risen. Indeed, it may call us names and try to stop us, but sharing the Savior is what Christians do.
And that should make us proud to carry that name.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, may I be a faithful and courageous witness to the grace we have received from our Lord and Savior. May I never be ashamed of Him ... and may He never be ashamed of me. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries