Times & Directions Give

"behold, I'm with you always, to the end of the age."

navigate Xclose

Christians Will Be Persecuted

Persecution Blog Post

Starting with our Savior on the cross, Christian history is dripping with the blood of the martyrs.  Jesus' instruction to his followers concerning the coming persecution they should expect to experience has stood the test of time. As long as we, as God's people, live in a world wrought with sin (and sinners), we will encounter opposition and adversity.  Apart from the saving work of the Holy Spirit, people, by nature oppose God and everything and anyone that stands in his name.  Many people are content to look down their noses at Christians as foolish, naive, weak, or any number of other derogatory adjectives you can think of.  However, the most angry and hateful towards God choose to lash out in more tangible ways.

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to southeast Asia as part of a short-term mission trip.  The country we visited did not offer the same freedoms that we enjoy here in America.  The things I saw and experienced on that trip completely reconfigured the way I look at the world.  Perhaps the most powerful moment of the trip for me was when we had the opportunity to meet with a local pastor of an underground house church.  As I sat and listened, through our translator, to his stories of God's faithfulness and the amazing work he was doing in that community, I was caught up in awe and worship.  But what really overwhelmed me were the stories of the immense persecution this man had endured to share the Gospel with his people.  The stories were heartbreaking and overwhelming to say the least.  My favorite memory of that trip was our time with that young pastor and having the opportunity to pray over him.

When our time was over, we went our separate ways.  He back to his life, and me back to mine.  I found out through on of our missionary partners that only a few weeks after we had visited him, during their Christmas service, the man and several members of his church were injured by local authorities who hurled stones into their home while they gathered.  As Americans, perhaps we don't realize what our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world are enduring for the sake of the Gospel each and every day.  Maybe we don't want to know.

Don't get me wrong, I know that life isn't always sunshine and daisies for Christians here.  As Cody mentioned in his sermon, our culture is increasingly more and more intolerant of what is deemed as "intolerance."  So, Christians who attempt to stand for biblical truth are labeled as hateful and bigoted.  We've all probably read a news story of some Christian who took a stand for what they believe and paid the price (usually financially).  Maybe you yourself have lost something for what you believe.  Yet, few, if any of us know what it is like to live in constant danger of physical pain or death simply for professing to follow Jesus.  In many places this is the reality of the life of the Christian.

The amazing thing about persecution though is how it produces the inverse effect of that which is intended by the persecutor.  If you look at modern statistics, Christianity is exploding in countries where the powers that be are most vigorously opposing and persecuting believers (such as China and many of the primarily Muslim nations of the Middle East and Africa).  This is the same pattern of growth we see described among the early church in the book of Acts.  Why is this?

I think it is primarily rooted in our understanding of who we are called to be as Christians.  When Jesus described what it looked like to follow him, listen to some of the descriptions he used...

"Enter by the narrow gate.  For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." (Matthew 7:13-14)

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." (Luke 9:23-24)

"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." (John 15:18-20)

There's not a whole lot of sugar coating things when it comes to the teaching of our Lord.  Jesus knew what awaited him and those who followed after him.  In love and mercy, he prepared us for the inevitable.  This teaching is still invaluable today.

To be a Christian is to set aside self and give our life over to Jesus.  It is to store up our treasures in heaven among the eternal, not here on earth among the temporal.  It is to suffer the loss of all things for the "surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (Philippians 3:8) and to view the sufferings of this world as a "light momentary affliction [which] is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison" (2 Corinthians 4:17).

When we live with this perspective, there is little that the world can throw at us that can shake a faith built on such a solid foundation.  It doesn't necessarily make persecution easier, but it does make it finite.  It gives hope; and hope produces joy; and joy produces steadfastness and resolve in the face of any adversity.

All over the world, each and every day, Christians are suffering the loss of all things, maybe even their very lives or the lives of their loved ones, all for the sake of Christ.  To many of us, that may seem unimaginable.  Surely, no one can say it is easy.  However, that one day could be what we are called to.  Let us not take for granted the blessing we have been given as Christians in America.  Let us use our freedom to speak boldly and stand up for biblical truth, and let us be faithful to pray for and serve our brothers and sisters around the world who don't share our favorable conditions.

In Grace,
Chris Morris

If you missed this week's sermon (or just want to listen again), follow the link below to listen. Or subscribe to our podcast in iTunes.

Part 9 - Prepare for Persecution

Questions discussed in this sermon:

1.  Why were Peter & John arrested?
2.  Why are Christians persecuted?
3.  How can we engage those who hate Christian doctrine?

Leave a Comment

Comments for this post have been disabled.

Latest Tweet