Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Persecution and Suffering

Follower's of Jesus Christ in America had better be prepared.

Persecution is coming.

It's nothing new for the follower of Christ.

Just read the Book of Acts in the New Testament, and you will begin to get an appreciation for what early Christ Followers endured.

Believers in this country should spend some time in Foxes Book of Martyrs and let the sobering reality of persecution begin to sink in to their "spoiled by our religious freedoms in the USA" minds.

Educate yourself as to the dire straits that Christians are in TODAY around the world in places like Indonesia, China, Iran, and Nigeria.

For far too long we have been the spiritual equivalent of an ostrich, sticking our heads in the sand of OUR Bill of Rights. Blessed to have been born in this wonderful country, most of us are oblivious to the plight of Christ Followers around the world, but the inconvenient truth of the matter is that persecution exists, and it is coming here, faster than most people realize.

I am thankful to be an American. I cherish our Constitution and our Bill of Rights. As a citizen, I expect to have those rights protected. Yet I would be a fool to believe that this will last forever. Look at one of the heroes (and human authors) of the New Testament - a fellow named Saul of Tarsus. You might know him better as Paul the Apostle. Paul was a Roman Citizen. He did not earn that citizenship nor purchase it at a price. Like many of us American Christians, he was simply born a citizen of Rome, and expected to enjoy the privileges and perks that came with it. Yet listen to his testimony regarding the persecution and suffering that he endured for his faithfulness to Christ:

"Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure." (2 Corinthians 11:22-27)

He even counseled his young Greek protege, Timothy, that he (and all other Christians) could and should expect more of the same:

"You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived." (2 Timothy 3:12)

That's not exactly what we would put on a recruiting poster, is it? ("Hey! Come to Jesus and get persecuted!") Yet the warning is there for every believer to see, "Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus WILL be persecuted..."

Why can't we just go along our merry way, and live a life in Christ that will cause everybody to love and adore us? Why is the entertainment industry so brutal to Christians? Why are those who preach "tolerance" so loudly, so intolerant of those who follow Christ? Why is it becoming more and more unpopular to be a real Christian in 21st Century America?

Because!

Here is what Jesus, Himself, said about the subject:

"If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. " (John 15:18-21)

So, there you go, my friend. Better get use to it.

This is one pastor who is tired of hearing American Christians whine about being mocked and treated with intolerance. It's time to put your big boy britches on and be prepared, because it is only going to get worse. We ain't seen nothing yet!

But here is the good news from Jesus, regarding the suffering and persecution that we will one day surely face:

"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

3 comments:

dan biser said...

amen brother! sermonindex is having a conference this October about the coming persecution; definitely going to be a separating of the wheat and the chaff

Jim Drake said...

For those of us who have been praying for revival, the coming persecution might be God's answer. As Tertullian said, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." Regardless, persecution will certainly cause us to quit spinning our wheels over trivial things.

Debra Curtis said...

Persecution,been there,still there. For being a Christian and because I've been sunkissed .