Do you feel like your efforts to live as a follower of Christ are being met by a rock wall? Is it that with every effort, it seems that something bad happens to you, and you are plagued by hard times? Are you going against the flow of what is popular and ‘fun’, and your peers laugh and mock you, or even bully you? Does it feel like you are the single light in the darkness? If all of this is true, then Paul’s words to Timothy will be especially poignant for you:
“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is GOD-Breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of GOD may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:12-17 NIV
Not all of us are like Timothy, fortunate to grow up in a Bible-believing, Christ-following home, praying and reading scriptures, and learning the ways of a Christian. That is a wonderful blessing, but not required in order to live for Christ and to hold up His Light for the world to see. No matter what age we are when we come to JESUS, we can be hungry for the Word and learn it in order to share it. Persecution comes with Salvation. It comes in different forms. As a child, it can be in mocking and bullying. As a teenager and young adult, peer pressure can be brutal. As an adult going into the work force, bosses and coworkers can discriminate and keep you from advancing. Even as adults, we are subjected to mocking and bullying.
Becoming a Christian, a follower of Christ, guarantees you will be persecuted. It may be subtle and covert, and it may be blatantly overt. The enemy uses every weapon in his arsenol to strike Christians down, and the more we live and represent Christ, the bigger the weapond he employs. As adults, it can be a job loss and being unable to provide for ourselves and our families. Disease and illness and injuries are used by the enemy to make us doubt the Sovereignty of GOD. Families and friends will turn against us – look at Jesus. He was rejected by his neighbors and had to leave His home in order to begin His ministry.
Remember Paul? He lost everything to serve His LORD. Home, possessions, friends, status….
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of CHRIST. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my LORD, for Whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from GOD on the basis of faith.” – Philippians 3:7-9 NIV
We have to choose for ourselves what is most important, the things of man or the Salvation offered by Christ. By choosing to follow Jesus, we are accepting that we will be targeted by the enemy. HOWEVER, by choosing the Freedom of Christ, we are also ensured of a home with Him FOREVER, with NO pain, NO sorrow, and NO tears. Today is fleeting, and our lives on earth will end (soon!), but the eternity after death lasts forever and ever, Amen.
Photo credit: Mark Campbell, Big Sur, California 2017. Used with permission.