All these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.
What is persecution? One dictionary defines it this way: “Hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of race or political or religious beliefs.” Applied to the Christian faith, being persecuted means enduring hostility or unfair treatment because of your words or deeds in the name of Jesus Christ. That ill-treatment can be anything from ridicule you endure for wearing a cross to school or work all the way to being martyred for your faith, and anything between those extremes.
Now, if you never take a stand for your faith, then you never have to worry about persecution. For example, students, if you remain quiet when a professor is ridiculing the Bible and blaspheming God, then you never have to worry about getting a lower grade. If you are a pastor who never speaks out against moral issues in the world, then you never have to worry about being criticized by people, both inside and outside the church. If your parents are not Christians and you never talk to them about their need for Christ, then you never have to worry about being thrown out of the house. If you are married to a non-Christian and surrender to your mate’s desire to quit going to church, then you never have to worry about disharmony in your marriage. But if you do take a stand for Jesus Christ, then get ready. You are going to suffer.
What should we be doing to prepare for this coming persecution? Peter says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation” (1 Peter 4:12-13).
Sometimes we are surprised when we suffer for Christ’s sake. We think, “I am supposed to get rewarded for doing right.” Yet Peter says don’t be surprised when you suffer for Christ, as though it were strange. Then he adds the word “beloved.” That word means “deeply loved by God.” When you suffer in your workplace, in a relationship, or at school for following Christ, remember that you are deeply loved by God. Your suffering doesn’t mean God has forgotten about you. It is simply part of the price of following Christ. Being a Christian doesn’t eliminate problems in this life. In many ways, it creates new problems, at least in the short term. In the end, Christ rewards us. But in the short term, there is a price to pay for being a Christian.
The call to be a Christian is the call to suffer for Christ. Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:11-12, “If we died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him.”
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Christians in the Crosshairs” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.
Oxford Dictionaries, s.v. “persecution,” June 17, 2017, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/persecution.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.