Let me share some uncomfortable truths deliberately forgotten today in our land of apathy and opulence. And this truth may be hard to swallow for some, yet it is true nonetheless. In a simple statement: Persecution is an integral part of Christianity. So much so that it is to be expected, even desired. Why? Because persecution, like spiritual fruit, is an outward sign of living and abiding in Christ in obedience. And if so, we must, as a church and as believers living in the West, prepare for persecution.
The Scriptures teach that persecution is an inevitable result of one wanting to live in the image of Jesus. Consider the promise and the conditions of this verse:
Yes, and all (each, every, entire, with the idea of oneness, without exception) who desire (to will, wish, intend, implying active volition and purpose) to live (to spend one’s existence, to pass one’s life) godly (righteously, attributing to God the things which rightfully pertain to God) in (who) Christ Jesus will (promise) suffer persecution (to press, distress, trouble, crush, to prosecute, to pursue with repeated acts of enmity) – 2 Timothy 3:12.
I suggest you read this passage in context. You will clearly see the focus of this chapter is that persecution is to be expected and not feared. Ever. After all, when Jesus was speaking about the relationship between a master and His servants, He was speaking in the context of suffering and persecution. This is a classic if/then statement from our Lord
“Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, (then) they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, (then) they will keep yours” – John 15:20.
In fact, when you look at the ministry of Jesus from the perspective of Him preparing His disciples, and the church, for the inevitability of persecution, you can see it on almost every page.
How Do I Prepare for Persecution?
Assuming that is true, how can we begin to prepare for the inevitable persecution. Below are twelve bullet-point items we will expand in the weeks to come. For now, just get familiar with them.
• Fear God and Not Man – Matthew 10:28, Proverbs 1:7, Psalm 56:11, Acts 9:31
• Expect Persecution as a Christian, Embrace it – John 15:20, 1 Peter 4:12-14
• Despite Persecution, Have Peace and Rejoice – Matthew 5:10-12
• Be an Example of Christ Even During Persecution – Philippians 2:15-16
• Love Your Enemies (no matter how hard that is) – Matthew 5:39-45
• Endure Suffering and Persecution with Patience – 1 Peter 2:20-23, 1 Corinthians 10:13
• Remember to Worship Him, Come What May – Philippians 4:6-7, Psalm 34:1
• Hide God’s Word in Your Heart (Memorize it!) – Psalm 1:1-2; 119:11, 105
• Fellowship with Other Christians – Romans 16:5, 1 Corinthians 16:17
• Love One Another – John 13:34-35, 1 Peter 1:22-23, 1 John 4:20
• Get Serious About God Today! Because we are running out of tomorrows!
And finally, remember that Jesus said, “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven” (Matt. 5:12) only in the context of suffering persecution. And not in all the other activities we seem to fill our day with.