When Persecution Comes…
1 Cor. 4:12-13
“When reviled, we bless;
when persecuted, we endure;
when slandered, we entreat.“
Show me a Christian involved in the moral and ethical conversation and decision making process of our day and I can almost guarantee you that person is not held in high regard by his or her peers. It is highly unlikely that you will both hold the line on biblical truth and find popularity and acceptance in this world.
“All the eschatological [end times] promises regarding the new heaven and new earth, all the blessings of sins forgiven and of the blessed Spirit of God, do not negate the fact that the good news we present focuses on the foolishness of Christ crucified… Until the end of the age, we will take up our cross – that is, we will die to self-interest daily – and follow Jesus. The less any society knows of that way, the more foolish we will seem and the more suffering we will endure. So be it; there is no other way of following Jesus.”
– D.A. Carson, The Cross and Christian Ministry, (p. 107-108)
We live in an age of great advantage. To this point very few of us have been excluded from anything because of our faith. But if you look at the direction we are headed as a culture that type of exclusion is beginning to become a reality. We are living in a time and place that knows less and less about the cross-shaped life. Being a Christian and living life or conducting a business as a Christian who is faithful to God’s word is becoming a choice that is beginning to have implications – financial and otherwise.
If you are going to live a life of gospel faithfulness, persecution will come. Hardship will come. Trials will come. Abuse will come. Slander will happen. You will suffer. How will you respond?
Suffering For Christ is a blessing…
Listen to how Paul talks about suffering in Phil 1:29-30: “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.”
Take comfort in the fact that your life, as good or bad as you think it is, is not just going in random directions like a ball in a pinball machine.
There is divine order to the universe.
God is in control.
Nothing that happens surprises Him.
Suffering in the life of a child of God is sometimes a result of personal sin, but suffering in the life of a child of God is never without purpose. So if you are suffering as a child of God, it is God who has appointed that suffering for your good, for your sanctification.
Check out 1 Peter 4:12-16:
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.
Because suffering for Christ is a blessing…
- When someone wishes me evil, I can wish them good.
- When someone tears me down and causes me to suffer, I can endure it, I can get through it. It won’t last forever.
- When someone speaks falsely of me in order to damage my reputation, I can still talk to them and show them the love of God.