Things People Don't Like to Talk About: Persecution
All around the world, Christians are persecuted for their faith on a daily basis. Don’t believe me? Then before you continue reading check out organizations such as Open Doors USA and The Voice of the Martyrs.
Unfortunately, it’s a heart breaking reality that many people are clueless about. If you don’t live in persecuted areas such as the Middle East, North Korea, China, or certain regions in Africa (just to name a few places), then it’s easy to only be aware of what’s happening in our little bubble. But all around the world, thousands of Christians are being killed, tortured, imprisoned, forced to flee from their homes- they are facing so much resistance, and all because they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
In John 15:18 it says; “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. “ In this verse Jesus is warning His disciples. It’s clear in the bible that believers in Jesus Christ will face persecution and suffering. But Jesus also tells us this; “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Despite the persecution and suffering Christians may face, there is peace in midst because the Holy Spirit is with us.
Now, the persecution we face in America is much different than the persecution Christians are facing in other countries. Our trials and tribulations look different. But I would not be surprised if Christians in America will one day face intense persecution such as our brother and sisters around the world. I don’t know what the future holds, only God does. But if you are a Christ follower, you need to ask yourself the tough questions:
- Would you denounce Jesus Christ if you knew your life was on the line?
- If you knew you would lose everything just because you went to church on Sunday, would you still show up?
I personally spoke with a Pastor this past week of writing this blog. He told me that due to the horrific tragedy of the mass shooting in that small Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, TX, he noticed his own congregation was nervous to keep coming to church.
My fear with the Western church is that we are allowing these fears to override the God we serve. Yes, persecution is real. Yes, suffering is real. Yes, it can happen anywhere at any time. But when these things strike, we forget who it is we serve.
Let me remind you of a verse I already shared: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Jesus has overcome EVERYTHING. Every evil thing, every ounce of suffering, every atrocity, EVERYTHING. Jesus has overcome.
Here’s the thing. As a believer in Jesus Christ, life sure isn’t easy. We will face suffering, persecution, and we are in a war with the flesh, spirit, and the enemy of our souls every day. But as we follow Jesus, He gives us peace in the face of adversity. He gives us joy when things aren’t going well. And we are so en-wrapped in His love because it’s not our circumstances that determines our lives, but it’s God’s LOVE for us that determines our lives!
As believers in Jesus Christ we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. The Holy Spirit enables us to follow God and say yes to Jesus no matter the cost. We need to daily read the word of God, pray continually, and seek Jesus with our whole heart so that we may find Him.
Maybe for some of you, you’re wondering, “well, what’s the point in all of this?” You want to know the point of following Jesus thru suffering and persecution?
Heaven and hell. That’s the point.
When I learn more and more about believers around the world sacrificing everything they have to follow Jesus, verses like the ones below come to mind (it’s a lot of scripture, but PLEASE don’t skip it):
“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
As I was praying for the Persecuted Church, this thought hit me: They must have the strength to endure because the reality of eternity is that real to them.
As Christ followers, we do what we do because eternity is real. The bible makes it clear that there is heaven and hell, and if you are not a follower of Jesus you are destined to spend eternity in hell. I cannot fathom that reality. But this is one major reason why I’ve given my life to the cause of Christ, I want God to use me to reach as many people as possible. I fully believe with everything I am that the bible is true in what it says. I love how Francis Chan, Christian author and speaker puts it: “If I’m wrong, I wasted my life. If you’re wrong, you wasted your eternity”
I know I have been covering some tough topics lately, but I felt compelled by the Lord to do so. Following Jesus is an adventure. There is nothing else like this journey. There is so much joy and wonder in following the God of the universe. I have never regretted giving my life to Jesus and I am so excited for where He is taking me in my own journey with Him. But at the same time, I am aware that life could throw some curve balls. I am aware that I may walk thru intense persecution and suffering one day. Whatever happens to me, I trust that God has a plan for it. Whatever happens to you, my prayer is that you would do the same. Let’s follow Jesus with everything we are. Wonder and adventure is waiting for us, but the souls of friends, families, neighbors, and strangers are on the line. Surrender everything to Jesus so that He may use you to make a mark on this generation for eternity.