A former missionary to Romania, Trevin Wax now lives in Tennessee where he serves as an editor developing gospel-centered small group curriculum. Little by little, early on in his mission work in Romania, he became more conversant in their language. One day, however, he heard some Romanians on the street use a word (in reference to him and the other Christians he was with) that he hadn’t heard before. He soon discovered that they did not use it as a term of endearment. Apparently some Romanians refer to the evangelicals in their country as, Repenters. At first these vibrant Christ followers, that Trevin had come to know, were perplexed by the derisive name. Upon further reflection, however, they rejoiced to realize that others viewed them as having really changed. People could see that they had turned (repented) from the ways of the world to the way of Jesus Christ.
No one likes to be ridiculed, yet in their being called ‘Repenters’ they can take heart in the fact that there is nothing ambiguous or obscure about their witness. The life changing power of the gospel is clearly evident in them. Throughout church history, those who really encountered Jesus went from lives of selfishness to lives of holiness, and they stood out. As a result, they too were called such names as Pietists and Puritans. Nevertheless, like these Romanian ‘Repenters’, they would have counted it a privilege, and were not ashamed of it - as long as it pointed people to Jesus. The Apostle Paul said as much himself when he declared, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).
Vance Havner once said that you don’t have to dress up like a clown to witness to a circus. Too often we try to be so relevant to the world that they see no real difference in us. Now, Jesus did not say blessed are the obnoxiously high-minded who religiously think they are better than others. No, he said, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven… “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:11-16).
I guess the question is, “Are we distinctively known as genuine followers of Jesus who, like the Romanian Repenters, clearly shine the light of the power of the gospel?”
Thanks for meandering along (and prayerfully pondering this question) with me.