(WALL STREET JOURNAL) Brooklyn Dodgers President Branch Rickey first met Jackie Robinson on Aug. 28, 1945. Rickey told Robinson that he wanted to sign the 26-year-old ballplayer and break the national pastime’s color barrier. But for him to succeed, Rickey said, Robinson couldn’t respond to the indignities that would be piled on him: “I’m looking for a ballplayer with guts enough not to fight back.”
Rickey then opened a book published in the 1920s, Giovanni Papini’s “Life of Christ,” and read Jesus’ words: “But whoever shall smite thee on the cheek, turn to him the other also.” Robinson knew the Gospel and knew what was required of him. He replied, “I have two cheeks, Mr. Rickey. Is that it?”
“I can testify to the fact that it was a lot harder to turn the other cheek and refuse to fight back than it would have been to exercise a normal reaction,” Robinson wrote. “But it works, because sooner or later it brings a sense of shame to those who attack you. And that sense of shame is often the beginning of progress.”
If I convert to Christianity, my family will disown me, and I will be persecuted. Should I follow Jesus?”
From Greg Laurie: The great preacher John Wesley was riding along on his horse one day when he realized that three days had passed, and he had not been persecuted in any way. Not a single brick had been thrown in his direction. He had not been hit by an egg. So he actually stopped his horse and said out loud, “Could it be that I am backslidden or I have sinned?” Slipping down from his horse, he knelt on one knee and asked the Lord to show him if there was anything wrong with him spiritually.
A man who disliked Wesley saw him kneeling in prayer, so he picked up a brick and threw it at him, barely missing the preacher. When Wesley saw the brick fly by, he said, “Thank you, Lord! I know I still have Your presence.”
No wonder he was such a powerful preacher.
Your very presence and belief in God bothers some people. Sometimes you don’t even have to say anything. You are like a bright light, shining in a dark place. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18). You will be treated the same way Jesus was.
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10). Sometimes persecution can show itself in a brick coming our way or in physical harm, even death. At other times, it can show itself in mockery or rejection or losing a job or friends. But if you are living a godly life, then you will face persecution.
What do you say if someone says, “Jesus died on the cross, therefore l am already forgiven of all my sins, regardless of how I live.”
Jesus died on the cross so all your sins could be forgiven, but partaking of that forgiveness is conditional. You must act on what Jesus did for you. The Bible teaches you are to obey the gospel to obtain the forgiveness for which Christ died (Heb. 5:9). You obey the gospel through “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Imagine a man discovered he had a terminal disease with no possibility of a natural recovery. His only hope for a normal life would be to obey the commands of his doctor to change his lifestyle, eating habits, and to regularly take special medication. What would you think of that man if he wouldn’t obey the doctor’s life saving commands yet still believed the disease wouldn’t affect him because he had the knowledge there was a cure? You’d think he was a nut. In the same light, you must obey the gospel to partake from the gospel’s promise of forgiveness. Hebrews 12:14: “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.”
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