When General U.S. Grant visited General Phil Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley in September, 1864, a sergeant lounged against a fence and watched them talk. When a comrade came by the man jerked his thumb at the pair and said he sure hated to see Grant come around. For whenever he came around there was sure to be a big fight somewhere. Grant’s reputation as a fighter had obviously preceded hm. Grant Takes Command, 363.
When God called Ezekiel to a prophetic ministry, he had a specific idea in mind. The prophet would preach to a people both obstinate and rebellious, God stated. Nevertheless, God wanted him to develop such a reputation as a preacher of divine tidings that the people, while denying everything he said, could never deny his role as every inch the prophet he claimed to be.
Every Christian faces that challenge today. We sometimes work in hostile environments where verbal testimony is rejected. We often labor in negative situations where even an example is ridiculed. We have no control over that…over the thoughts, reactions, appreciation or abhorrence of the public for our witness. We do have God’s command that our faith is to be publicly lived. His Word must go to all. God won’t distinguish between good and bad, for all need to hear. The stress is always on the testimony borne, not on the response to it.
Our relationship with Christ prevents us from retreating into a monastic privacy, where it’s just “Jesus and me.” That’s where faith begins. But it must be related in public for others to see. We are to show our faith, without making a show of faith. And even if we’re rejected we can guarantee that our witness will be emphatic and authentic.