Mario’s sermon on March 27th on Acts 14:21-22, taught how Paul told the Christians in Iconium, Lystra, and Antioch that “it is necessary to pass through many troubles on our way to the Kingdom of God.” The Bible says that it is a necessary part of the Christian life. In light of Jesus’s words, “if they persecute Me, they are going to persecute you.” ~ John 15:20, it makes sense that a Christian is either being persecuted or on their way to being persecuted. If you are not being persecuted here’s one good reason why.
God has led you into a place of strengthening and preparation before the next persecution comes.
If you are not being persecuted for your faith, here are eight possible bad reasons why you aren’t being persecuted.
- You’ve never met Jesus or followed him in the first place. (Not a Christian)
- You follow the forms and traditions of Christianity without following Jesus Himself (Going through the motions)
- You ask Jesus to be Your Savior but you take your new-found freedom in Christ as license to do whatever you want (Licentiousness)
- You have compromised in a personal area that you have not fully surrendered to God (Compromise)
- You are chained by fear of Judgments and expectations of man (Conformity)
- You are taking up causes for good in ways that make sense to the World, rather than building God’s kingdom God’s way for God’s glory (Worldly pursuits)
- You have bargained with powers and authorities that you will only build the kingdom of God within certain limits in exchange for their protection or support (Appeasement)
- You deny you even know Jesus when your life is on the line (Apostasy)
~Taken from To a Mature Man: Ten Stages of Christian Maturity
Now, all of this talk about persecution may reasonably give rise to the question:
Why is persecution part of God’s plan for Christians?
I hope this answer will surprise you and amaze you as much as it did me. I thank Bible Project’s video on Revelation Part 1 for helping me understand this. It is the message of the sealed scroll of the Lamb.
The answer: God wants us to share in Jesus’ joy He gained from forgiving His persecutors and demonstrating God’s love to them. When a Christian is following the example of the loving sacrifice of the Lamb of God by demonstrating God’s love for His enemies not by killing them but dying for them, this is the way that God draws all nations to repentance. As Christians are persecuted in the world today we have the opportunity to demonstrate God’s redeeming love day after day in order to draw as many people to the Father as are willing to see, understand, and turn back to Him. And by doing this Christ’s joy is tremendously enlarged, and He shares that joy with us.
Summary: Persecution is a necessary part of our walk with the Lord. If you claim the name “Christian” and are not currently being persecuted, as far as I can tell, there is one possible good reason why and eight possible bad reasons why. God has a very special purpose for the persecution which we undergo: to draw the world to Jesus revealed in us. This is His great joy He shares with us!
With this in mind, I offer you these calls to action.
- 1 Peter 4:1, “Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, equip yourselves also with the same resolve.” Count the regular sufferings you endure as practice for the day when you get to share in His joy by showing His love to your persecutors.
- If you are caught in one of those eight snares in your walk with the Lord, acknowledge it to God and repent and get back on mission. When you do, opposition from the Enemy will not be far away.
- Familiarize yourself with Jesus’ instructions for His disciples in Matthew 10 especially vs. 16-39 concerning ministry and persecution. Here are a few example takeaways:
- Don’t seek out persecution
- If you are persecuted in one city flee to the next
- Let the Holy Spirit do the talking
- Live your whole life for Christ, so that when the time comes to lay down your life for Jesus, you are ready.
God bless you brothers and sisters. May He keep you for His Kingdom, and may He work through us to reveal his Son in us, and draw all people to Himself, so that Heaven and Earth can be reconciled. Then we will be filled with joyful recognition when our Beloved comes from Heaven to reclaim His bride.