Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die.Everybody wants the good life but nobody wants the pain.You cannot have one without the other, it is a pacakage and we must receive both with glad hearts.That’s why I can go through it all, joyfully but painfully, looking only at the vision of great hope.Blessed be the name of the Lord, Amen.
Persecution: the promise nobody wants
“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…” 2 Timothy 3:12
Why is this? Is God sadistic? Of course we want to answer “no.” But if you’ve ever known somene who was thrown in prison for his faith or suffered real pain, the answers may not come so easily for them. Jesus said to John the Baptist, “Blessed is the man who doesn’t fall away on account of me.” I think he was speaking to John himself. John never got to see Jesus coming in his glory; he saw the executioner coming instead.
At the end of the day, there is this spiritual principle: persecution leads to suffering and suffering forces dependence on God. This practice of depending on God is what He wants and what we need. Life independent of him is bankrupt.
By allowing other people to attack our faith, God is applying pressure to it. Faith becomes stronger under pressure.
Matthew 10 describes in detail what that persecution will look like. We’ll be flogged, betrayed, hated, and put to death. When we’re persecuted, we’re told to flee.
Of course, all this did happen to that generation, but it looks so unlike our own times. What do we know of such testing? Are we afraid of pressure, knowing what it will show?
Chinese Christians attribute their growth to the persecution they’ve endured. They pray that we American Christians will know such blessing. I have a hard time joining them in their prayers. “God, bring greater persecution to me and my household that your kingdom might advance,” is not a prayer we frequently pray. But maybe we should.
It always strikes me that we pray for blessings, yet never think about the fact that, when Jesus listed off the blessings, they included, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” I’m with you – I don’t like it, yet God says it’s a blessing, so I must learn to rejoice in it. How did they do that in the days of Acts? It’s not just an attitude that I’m missing. I think I’m missing a deeper realization of all that Jesus did for me.
Just 4weeks ago, I heard a man pray these words, “Lord, give me suffering…give me suffering…” As he prayed these words in tears, I was awakened to something new. This was a top university professor, an author of over 100 christian books, a man with deep love for the Lord Jesus. He prayed words I never heard in my years as a follower of Jesus Christ. I still haven’t prayed those words yet, because I now know my revalation is swallow, my hunger is not deep enough, worse still, the “self” is still alive and well. But not for long…