3/14/10

Expect Persecution.

We have looked at God's truth and instruction about our past, but what about our future?  After we decide to try to live a godly life, then what?

Expect persecution.  One truth that we, as Christians, tend to skip over in the bible is the reality that, if we are living for Jesus, we will be persecuted.   Not might or could… WILL!  Paul could not say it any clearer: “[E]veryone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…” (2 Tim. 3:12).  According to Webster’s dictionary, to “persecute” means to harass or punish in a manner designed to injure, grieve, or afflict; specifically, to cause to suffer because of belief.

That’s tough to think about.  Really think about that for a moment.  When you choose to live for Christ, you are choosing a life of certain persecution.  No, it’s not likely that we will be enslaved, tortured, or even killed for our faith, but persecution can come in many forms.  We may be left out of some friend circles or work outings.  We may be slandered.  Jesus says Christians may be “betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends” because of him.  (Luke 21:16). 

So, why then would anyone want to follow Christ if we’re promised this persecution?  What made most of Jesus’ disciples live and die for him?  Those who have been persecuted for their faith know why.  In fact, the apostles had a radical view of what it meant to be persecuted.  The bible tells us that “[t]he apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering in disgrace for the Name.”  (Acts 6:41).  Were they nuts?  Or did they realize that through suffering, God placed his stamp of approval on their work?  They had become more like Christ in their suffering. 

[I need to stop here and note the obvious fact that we should not seek out suffering, nor should we avoid it.  The point of this post is to help us remember that we will be persecuted in some way for Christ.]

So, we see that Christ followers endure suffering to be more like Christ, but there is another truth that comes along with suffering:  our reward in heaven.  God promises great rewards in heaven for our persecution on earth.  Jesus himself tells us that “[b]lessed are you 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, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  (Matt. 5:11-12). 

What I am saying here is not some revelation that you’ve never thought or been taught.  It is, however, a truth that just needs to be remembered.  Remember, the purpose of this blog is to help think about and renew our faith.

Before I go, I want to leave you with one more verse.  It’s a verse that if thought about deeply enough, can scare you and inspire you all at the same time.  And, perhaps, may be the biggest reason to endure persecution for Jesus Christ.  In Matthew, Jesus tells us “whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.  But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.”  (Matt. 10:32-33).  

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