The word “guilty” holds a very negative connotation… and generally, I would agree that it is a negative word, and one that you would never want to be described by. But it was only very recently that I began to consider under what circumstances should the verdict of “guilty” be one that I wear proudly.
If serving You’s against the law of man, if living out my faith in You was banned — then I’d stand right before the jury
If saying, “I believe,” is out of line. If I’m judged because I’m gonna give my life to show the world the love that fills me…
Then I want to be guilty.
These song lyrics are by the Newsboys, and brought tears to my eyes the first time I heard them. They poignantly paint a picture of a Christian standing “guilty” before the jury for their faith. The song reminds me of Christian martyrs in the early church, like Stephen who was stoned for preaching the gospel. It reminds me of missionaries like Nate Saint who were brutally murdered on the mission field… but who does it not remind me of? It doesn’t remind me of me. Of my safe, sheltered life here in the United States. Of my lack of fervor for the gospel. And that breaks my heart.
Why have I let the idea of my life being persecuted become so foreign to me? I have no idea. This should be something that we as Christians expect and are prepared for. Or even more, according to the apostles example in Acts chapter 5, this should be something that we rejoice in!
“The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus.” — Acts 5:41
As I have thought and prayed about this over the past few months, an entirely different perspective has come to me regarding persecution, sharing my faith, and how the world views me for doing so. It comes as a sharp awakening and challenge to myself, and it’s not something I want to downplay anymore.
Honestly, I am not persecuted in any way shape or form for living the Christian life that I live. I go to church without having to hide it, I can speak the name of Jesus without being stoned, and yet I still back away from boldly declaring my faith for petty reasons such as it being uncomfortable, or that I am scared to offend anyone. I haven’t the slightest thing holding me back from sharing Jesus’ name constantly, there are no laws threatening my safety or life for doing so, and yet I can’t remember the last time I actually did just that. I can’t remember the last time I shared the gospel of hope to someone who needed to hear it.
American Christians can talk all day long about being “persecuted” even though we aren’t. But here is what scares me the most.. if a law were to be enacted that punished Christians for sharing their faith, would I be punished? If persecution were real in this country, would I be experiencing it? In all truthfulness, I would have to say no. Sure, if someone asks me if I am a Christian, I will answer yes. But do I go out and make disciples? Do I initiate conversations about my Savior? Not really. And I don’t want to be okay with that anymore.
“You will be hated by everyone on account of My name, but the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.” — Matthew 10:22
I want to be included in that. I want to be hated by this world and if this world starts calling people guilty for their faith, then I want to be one of those on whom the verdict hangs. I don’t want to hide from persecution, I want to embrace it proudly, because that means that this world knows who I’m living and dying for.
“I want to be guilty by association, guilty of being a voice proclaiming Your ways, Your truth, Your life, I’ll pay the price to be Your light. Oh, I want to be guilty.”
Take a second and think about the ways “guilty” can carry a positive connotation and light. The disciples in Acts 5 sure thought that it did! I want to be like them. Fearlessly and joyfully living, suffering, and dying for my Savior, because He lived, suffered, and died for me.