Suffering for Being a Christian
The bible teaches us that the Christian life is not an easy one. Jesus told His disciples that they would be persecuted even as He was. All around the world, Christians are being persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. Loss of a home, a job or family are common examples of what happens to individuals who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. Many Christians are murdered for their faith, and many are imprisoned. Persecution comes mainly from communist nations (North Korea)and Muslim countries, but is not limited to these.
The following first appeared on my blog entry of November 23, 2015 (due to a system failure, my blog has been deleted)
As I look at what it means to be a Christian here in the United States in 2015 I see not the Christians described in the Bible, but a refined, reserved, redesigned Christian. These observations are mine and mine alone, and they are made with the knowledge of the people I see attending churches and the direction that the churches seem to heading. I speak at many churches (close to 50 over the last 3 years) as a volunteer representative for a major Christian ministry. These churches are all from protestant and catholic denominations in 5 states.
Christians as I see us are very comfortable in attending church services on Sunday morning or other times, very willing to support missionaries and missions, very willing to “do church”. Now I am not saying that there is anything wrong in any of these activities, just that that is not enough. Now I have no idea how to quantify what is enough, so let’s not go down that rabbit hole with a bunch of comments. I include myself and my church in these comments, so don’t be quick to take offense.
There are a few things I see lacking. First, we are not willing to venture into the uncomfortable and/or unfamiliar places with the Gospel message. We are not on the streets, in the neighborhoods sharing with those who need to hear the truth of the Bible.
Second, we do not understand nor accept the reality of persecution of Christians and how it affects free Christians. Jesus told us “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 3 This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22: 37-40 NIV). If we are to follow this commandment we need to show love to the lost by giving them the most important message they will ever receive. How can we call our self Christians if we are not following Him? It is time for us to be taking it outside the church, stepping into the unfamiliar. Taking a chance.
So if we step out into the world and spread the gospel, what do we expose ourselves to? Rejection, name calling, maybe a threat. Nothing very serious. In most of the world, Christians expose themselves to far more danger than we will experience. Sharing the gospel in many countries can result in beatings, imprisonment or even death. The Bible has much too say about persecution for following Jesus Christ. It does not say that we are protected from it, but that we should expect it. here are a few examples: Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. John 15:20 We as Christians should be taking every opportunity to share the gospel with the dark world. We need to be keenly aware of the comments/questions that provide an opportunity to share the gift of salvation with the lost. We should not be putting our safety before their eternal salvation. We need to be bold.
The scripture below are just a few examples of what can be expected in the life of a committed Christian
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And, If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner? 19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.
Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men.