A post from several years ago about being part of the family of Christians.
10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:10-12
I pledged a social club in college (my small liberal arts Baptist school did not allow national sororities or fraternities so we had our own social clubs). I stuck with it for about two weeks before deciding that it just was not for me. It was in the middle of a really difficult time of my life and several good friends decided at the last minute not to pledge. I think there are probably still legends told of how I wound up de-pledging, but I did what I thought I had to do at the time. I can still recall some of the experiences I came by during that brief period. Mostly I remember constant encouragement from older members letting me know that I was not being subjected to anything they had not also faced. It increased my confidence and my hopes to know I had someone I could go to, someone that had walked this path before. I was not the first to tread down this way, and I could take heart with the knowledge that many had passed through successfully.
The preceding paragraph describes why I deeply love Jesus’ words in these 3 verses. There have been scores upon scores of believers who have traveled before us. Whatever ridicule or persecution we might face is not new. We are not the first to experience it. We can even rejoice when we are being subjected to the same treatment as the giants of faith. Just as I did not have to fear anything while pledging, we can go through all manners of trials and tribulations without fear because it is not our suffering alone.
The start of the baseball season is just around the corner, and there have been many stories about the upcoming season lately, quite a few about the New York Yankees. They have signed several big name free agents, had a not so glowing tell-all book come out, and their star 3rd baseman revealed he once was a steroid user. There has been much scrutiny directed towards Alex Rodriguez for this, and I am sure it has been excruciatingly painful at times. He has hired media firms to help him manage the press and sort through salvaging his image. He has leaned on his agent and brand manager. Yet one of the best places he can go is within his own clubhouse, as a teammate faced a very similar situation just a year ago. A-Rod can call upon this older teammate at anytime for advice or just to talk through everything. His best place for encouragement through his trials is within the family.
It is the same for us as we follow Jesus. I would say with confidence that no matter you are facing today, there is someone within your local church that has faced the same. You cannot know this without being actively involved with that body. One way you can leave His footprints today is by getting more connected to your church, both to serve Him and to more strongly bond with the family there.