John Wesley (1703-1791), the passionate preacher and founder of the Methodist movement in England, was riding along a road when it occurred to him that he had gone three days without being persecuted. Threats and insults had ceased. No chicken eggs or bricks had been thrown. Wesley came to a halt, alarmed, and shouted, “Can it be that I have sinned, and am backslidden?” He interpreted the lack of persecution as a lack of devotion to Christ.
Wesley leapt from his horse and went to his knees, pleading with God to show him how he had sinned. A burly man on the opposite side of the hedge heard the prayer and recognized the preacher. He picked up a brick and hurled it at Wesley, saying, “I’ll fix that Methodist preacher!” It landed gently beside Wesley, missing him by only a few inches. Wesley leaped to his feet cheerfully crying, “Thank God, it’s all right. I still have His Presence!”1
Thank God for thrown bricks! When the world hurls bricks of slander, contempt, and ridicule at you, it simply means you are glowing with God’s presence. The world despises Christ, and when you live like Him, you arouse their rage toward Him, which they then direct at you (John 15:18-25). You shouldn’t be shocked if the world hates you. You should be shocked if they don’t.
That is what the apostle Peter meant when he wrote, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Peter 4:12-14).
Do not sulk when you are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Do not shut up, back up, or give up. Instead, praise God and keep on preaching. Rejoice and continue to represent Jesus in the world. Being ostracized and opposed for following Jesus is a blessing unlike any other. As Reverend Obadiah Holmes exclaimed after being whipped for preaching Christ, “Gentlemen, you have whipped me with roses!”
- This story has been circulated for years, but I first discovered it in Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations (Rockville: Assurance Publishers, 1979), 995.
Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky.
Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).