Persecution has been a reality for the church since its inception in the first century. Christians all over the world have, and continue to suffer persecution at the hands of godless men and women. It's an aspect of our Christian walk which we have been warned of in God's word and by Jesus Himself. The Apostle Paul writes in 1Peter 4:12-16:
"Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings ... If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you ... Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter."
Many of us, when we were new believers in Christ, thought that once we gave our lives to Christ, it would be smooth sailing along with a free ticket to heaven. But, the reality is that once we make the decision to follow Jesus, we must 'die to self' so He can live through us. When it's our turn in America to suffer persecution, it will be essential for us to change our way of thinking before we go through it.
What became very apparent to Heidi and me from our reading is this: Our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ, sometimes even tortured for their faith,
cannot comprehend the man-made 'Prosperity Gospel' preached by many Western pastors who have never suffered persecution. Persecuted Christians believe in the 'Reality Gospel' taught to them in prisons and labor camps to which they are sent for practicing their faith ... and for demonstrating their love for Jesus.
Where in scripture do we see Jesus teaching this 'Prosperity' or 'Feel good' message? Rather, He taught the TRUTH ... about life, about God, and about the Kingdom. Jesus never taught that if a person tithes a certain amount of money to the church, he would be blessed seven times the amount given. Jesus never taught that if we pray three times a day, we would miraculously receive a new car, or a pay raise from our employer, or purchase the winning lottery ticket.
And Jesus never promised us a pain-free life if we decided to follow Him.
But, what Jesus did tell His followers and those of us living in the 21st century, is that we should 'count the cost' of following Him. Following Jesus is neither easy, or pain-free, or without risk. In some parts of the world, it could cost you your life.
In Luke 14:26-32, Jesus says: "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it -- lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So, likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple."
Question: Is Jesus telling us in this passage that once you accept Him as your Savior and Lord, you will have no more problems, just 'smooth sailing' and a pain-free life until you get to heaven? What kind of 'Feel Good Nonsense' is this, being taught by foolish men preaching from the pulpit? Followers of Jesus are warned by the Apostle Paul in 2Tim 2:3, "You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." Does this line up with today's feel good message?
We are also cautioned in 2Tim 3:12-13, "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived."
Listen. Jesus warned each of us as believers that, at some point, we will be persecuted for our faith. We may not be tortured or martyred like some of our brothers and sisters in Communist countries, but we WILL be persecuted to some extent. It has already started here in America by closing down the churches considering them as non-essential. Yet, you can't get Covid in the wide open abortion clinics or while participating in the riots.
In Matthew 5: 10-12, Jesus teaches us: "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven." "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." ("Righteousness" is the
quality of being morally upright, guiltless, blameless, honorable before God).
Then in 1Peter 4:14, Paul writes: "If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you ..."
And also in Phil 1:29, we read: "For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake."
Our persecuted brothers and sisters in China consider it an honor and a privilege to suffer for Jesus. They don't fear being persecuted, they embrace it. This is the way WE must think of being persecuted for Jesus ... as an honor and a privilege ... not as punishment!
So, why are Christians required to suffer for our faith? Because the Bible tells us, if we suffer with Him, we will also reign with Him!
Question: When God allows persecution to come to this country in its full fury:
-if Christian homes are burned or confiscated,
-if our bank accounts are seized by a socialist government (run by AOC or some
other Marxist) and given to the illegals or Black Lives Matter,
-if we are imprisoned for our faith ... How will we American Christians, respond?
-Would we say, "Thank You, Lord, for granting us the privilege to suffer for Your