2 Timothy 3:12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
In the West, the minute we taste persecution we tend to think, “I didn’t sign up for this.” Yes, we did, if our commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord was real. Jesus Himself was very blunt on this issue, in John 15:18 through 16:3 and elsewhere. It’s all a matter of allegiance. Those apart from Christ follow the devil, whether they realize it or not, and that’s what he wants and likes. However, the end of that way is destruction, because the devil comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. When we yield ourselves to Jesus Christ as Lord, we are no longer bound to the devil to do what he wants, and he hates that. Since he is “the god of this world,” (2 Corinthians 4:4) he motivates those who are under his control against us. That’s what persecution is all about. Americans tend to think of persecution as historical, but actually more believers were killed for their faith in the 20th Century than in the previous 19 combined, and the 21st Century is on a pace to exceed that by a wide margin. That is why we need to be very clear about our loyalties. If we are tied to the things of this world, we lose out on the eternal. John was so blunt as to say, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:15-17) When you put it that way, what’s a little persecution?
I honestly don’t feel that I have suffered any active persecution, which makes me a little anxious about the level of my commitment! To be honest, I have remained silent instead of proclaiming Christ out of a fear of people’s disapproval more times than I care to think about. I subscribe to newsletters that inform me of active persecution that is taking place around the world, and as I pray for those people and situations I am very aware of how blessed I am to have freedom to follow and proclaim Christ. However, how well have I used that freedom? If I haven’t been strong enough to provoke persecution, have I indeed been faithful? I know I am not to seek conflict, but I must never draw back from it in some sort of effort to “save my hide.” Compared to the Kingdom of God, my “hide” certainly isn’t worth saving! I am to be faithful in the circumstances in which I find myself, and understand that it is only by the grace of God that I am not under intense persecution. I am not to be satisfied with that, however, but be earnest in praying for my brothers and sisters who are under the very persecution that I have escaped.
Father, thank You for this reminder. I do at times feel guilty for how easy my life is. Help me indeed not love this life, but rather keep my life on Your altar, fully submitted and obedient to You, so that I may be Your child indeed, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!