Have you any wool? Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full……

Ever feel like a black sheep? Anywhere, I mean. Ever think you have sacrificed a lot for your faith? Parents, brothers, sisters, friends, jobs? And now, even freedom to worship, country, and national security. I waste too much time on feeling ostracized by people who I think should naturally be important in my life and vice versa. Sometimes I find myself asking questions like, “is it my turn to be the black sheep now?” or “am I being treated invisible because of my faith ~ because I am Lutheran?”. We’re not all on the same page. Like my husband has said, “Lutherans don’t make very good Baptists….” But you know what? Baptists make *awesome* Lutherans ~ that is former Baptists, of course. I know, I am one. But I digress….

No matter how surrounded we are by our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in the One True Faith, it is so easy, and more common than some people realize, to feel so alone. It sneaks up on you. And it’s not about unity in the church. It’s more about unity in the family (of origin) or circle of [former?] friends, or acceptance in culture and politics…. It’s so easy to slip into the mindset that we are “sacrificing” so much to be Lutheran, even Christian ~ and in a free country that was founded on the Christian faith, no less. Sacrifice isn’t the right word though. Everything is a trade-off. The One True Faith is such a gift, there is no trade-off that would be worth losing or compromising it. Not family, not friends, not government, not death.

Jesus was a “black sheep” in his family. His brothers thought he was dillusional. The people in his home town thought he was crazy. The people of his own race thought he was an embarassment. The church leaders thought he was a heretic. And the people who crucified him thought he was a liar. But Mary, his mother knew… she always knew. And she was quite possibly considered a dillusional liar by people in her own community as well. But Joseph knew what Mary knew. Jesus Christ is True man and True God. He is the precious Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Jesus Christ is life in the midst of death. Jesus Christ is love ~ pure and true, in a loveless world. He is Lord of all and he is Saviour.

In Luke 12:51-53 Jesus says, “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

No matter how we are rejected by our earthly families we have comfort in knowing that we are part of a much better family that we have for eternity… Romans 8:17 says that we are children of God and fellow heirs with Christ: “and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him”. Further, Romans 8:18 says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” And this is not speaking of our own glory. This is the glory of Christ, the glory of being in the presence of Christ forever and eternity. Temporal earthly relationships, no matter how they might grieve us, are not worth exchanging for an eternity with Christ. The answer is to keep our eyes on Christ and the Cross, when we find ourselves feeling hurt over the lost love of family and friends, or grieving for the way we think things ought to be. We live in a fallen world.

I was confirmed in 1998. My confirmation verse is Revelation 2:10, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” At the time, a little part of me wondered why my pastor would give me such a confirmation verse. Being a Christian does not mean we will never have to suffer again. Physically, mentally, economically, socially or politically. Christians all over the world are trading this earthly life for eternity with Christ in his glory, not ours ~ HIS. Some of us have exchanged family and friends for faith and one day we may be required to exchange our lives on earth for the same, even in this country. Will you be ready?

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