My dad is a pastor, so growing up I got stuck with the label known to every pastor's kid: PK. When I think about this label, a lot of struggles and blessings come to mind. I have grown up in a great and loving family and was lucky enough to be brought up hearing God's word.
However, because of who my dad is, I remember the frustration of not being introduced as Mercy Cornish, but rather as Pastor Paul's daughter. I struggled with the overloaded expectations placed on me as a result of this status.
People expected me to be a perfect little Christian girl, when I all I wanted to be was normal like everyone else.
Nobody wants to be different. We want people to like us, and one of the safest ways to do that is to blend in, to be like them. But following Christ has never been about "blending in." Following Him means to be like Him, to respond to life and relate to people the way He did.
Inevitably, there are times when doing that makes you different. Granted, it can be risky and uncomfortable to be different. But that's what being a follower of Jesus is all about—bringing the difference of your King to bear on the territory you've been assigned to: your home, your office, and your friendships.
We need to keep in mind that Jesus never promised that following Him would be a walk in the park. In fact, He made it clear that following Him would often create tension in a world that is going in the opposite direction. Just before His death, He spoke candidly to His disciples: "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first…If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also" (John chapter 15, verses 18, 20).
The story of Abdul Rahman
This reminds me of the story of Abdul Rahman, the Afghani who accepted Jesus Christ as his Saviour and faced the outrage of Muslim clerics in the courtrooms of Afghanistan. Although his conversion was considered a capital crime and his life was at risk, his faith stood the test. Right now thousands of believers in places like China, the Sudan, and Vietnam are making the point that Jesus is more important than personal peace and comfort.
But for those of us who don't live in life-threatening environments, being a fully committed follower brings its own kinds of trouble. It may be the threat of being cut out of the group and losing a promotion when the boss takes you and your colleagues out to dinner and then takes everyone but you to the strip club for an after dinner drink.
Or when your evolution-promoting friends scoff at your stance on creation and exclude you from the group. Forgiving a serious offence may have other fellow travellers thinking that you are the "village idiot." Refusing to enter a gossipy conversation and declining opportunities to speak in unloving ways about others may even cost you something with fellow believers. Yep, sad but true!
Going against the flow
Today, you will no doubt have opportunities to be different - to go against the flow. Don't be intimidated. Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble." But then He said, "Take heart! I have overcome the world" (John chapter 16, verse 33). What an interesting thought: When I stick with Him through thick and thin, I may feel like I've lost, but in reality, I ultimately win.
In retrospect, I can now see how my bad attitude towards my PK status reflected poorly on my Dad. It's motivating to remember that our non-Jesus attitudes and actions not only leave us on the losing side but also end up reflecting poorly on the One we love so much.
First published August 30, 2013
Mercy Cornish (21) lives in Christchurch and studies at Canterbury University. Mercy has completed a Bachelor of Arts degree studying Media and Communications and Political Science. This year Mercy is undertaking honours in Media and Communications.
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