by David Sisler

If you work with a computer, if a customer service agent has ever told you, “That is a computer error,” if you’ve ever heard the expression associated with computers called GIGO, “garbage in, garbage out,” you will appreciate this story.

The management of a Chicago hotel decided to send 4000 letters of gratitude to customers who had patronized their establishment in the previous six months. Due to “a computer error,” the letters did not go out to the customer list. They were sent to 4000 Chicago residents.

Computers can be set to “personalize” letters. Using a data base and a merge program you can say, “Dear Bill: It was great to have you stay in the hotel recently.”

Some of the spouses who read the letters were not amused.

One woman, pregnant with her fourth child said, “My husband has a doubt as to whether it’s his.”

One woman filed for divorce, claiming she now had documentary evidence of adultery.

Most of the men simply called the hotel and said, “Just a minute.” Then they put their wives on the line and said, “Go ahead. Tell her I was never at your hotel, that I have never booked a room there.”

Even though most of the letters were addressed to men, they were actually opened by their wives, and a slight problem followed. Can you imagine the misunderstandings and the false accusations that were aroused? Many have said that their lives may never be the same again because they were falsely accused, simply by a computer error!

One day Jesus told his listeners that it is a blessing to be falsely accused. He actually stated they would be rewarded for suffering false accusations.

“Blessed are you,” Jesus said, “when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.”

The First Century Christians did suffer some particularly slanderous accusations. Jesus said, “This is my body. This cup of the New Covenant is my blood.” His words were twisted and his followers were actually accused of cannibalism and human sacrifice.

The Christians called their weekly meeting the “Agape,” the Love Feast. They greeted each other with a kiss of peace. Seizing on those two things, Christians were accused of gross immorality, and their meetings were said to be orgies of lust.

The writer of Hebrews gave a brief catalog of their persecution: “They were tortured and refused to be released. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated – the world was not worthy of them.”

It is a crucial moment when a person is called on to suffer something for his faith. It is a clash between the world and Christ. It is a moment of intense drama as the players act on the stage of eternity. “To share in such a moment,” Jesus said, “is a great joy.”

There are many Christians who have never once in their lives made anything like a real sacrifice for Jesus. The moment when he appears likely to cost you something is the moment when you can demonstrate your love and loyalty for all the world to see.

To be falsely accused, and suffer for Jesus is not a moment of penalty, but an occasion for glory. “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad,” Jesus said. Leap, dance for joy, rejoice like a runner who burst to the front and won the prize with a last, split-second, lunge. Shout like a player whose team has just won the international championship for their sport. What a challenge! What an opportunity!


Copyright 2003 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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