Someone talked to me after church on Sunday & brought up some great questions about this week’s message.
- What if I don’t feel like I’ve ever been persecuted for my faith?
- What if I don’t feel like I’ve had much trouble, problems, or suffering because of my faith?
These questions reminded me that there are 3 things we need to consider…
First of all, Jesus doesn’t say we will constantly face trouble/persecution, just that if we follow Him, we will. So…if you haven’t experienced persecution or suffering yet…Good for you! Seriously!
However, if you continue boldly following Jesus & His values & standards that are antithetical to this world of selfish desires, in time you probably will.
Do not fear the possibility of persecution.
Continue BOLDLY following Jesus, for yours IS the kingdom of Heaven.
Secondly, we need to ask ourselves the following questions,
- Who am I spending my time with?
- Do I only spend time with people who are Christians?
- Who am I spending time with that doesn’t know Jesus?
Jesus tells us we are to be salt & light in the world, leading people to Him. That is very difficult to do if we are only spending time with other Christians. Perhaps we have not been persecuted because we are not spending time with anyone who does not think and/or believe the way we do.
Lastly, and perhaps the hardest possibility to deal with, is related to the following quote I read in preparing last Sunday’s message, “An unpersecuted Christianity may, in some instances, be an effete faith (sterile, degenerate, of low vigor/energy).”
This quote challenges us to ask ourselves some hard questions.
- Is my faith genuine/sincere enough that is has transformed me?
- Has my faith in Christ made me different?
- Or…Am I a Christian, but not a disciple of Jesus?
“Possibly our alleged Christianity is condemned when it is so tepid that the wicked do not persecute it, but simply ignore it.” This is a hard reality to consider!
Another hard reality related to this last point is that true disciples are often persecuted by other Christians. Christians are those people who believe in & have accepted Jesus. Disciples are those Christians that have devoted their lives to following and being transformed by the life, values, and standards of Jesus. (There is a difference!)
Just like the prophets in the OT, John the Baptist, Jesus, & many of the Apostles were persecuted by the “religious” of their time, a true follower of Christ who is being transformed into His image will often “ruffle the feathers” of other Christians who don’t want to be transformed as well as those who either do not know or do not like Christ/Christianity.
Just some important thoughts to ponder.
I NEVER intend for my words to discourage or shame.
Hopefully, instead, they are challenging and encouraging.
Join us on Sunday as we close out our “New Creation…” series on Jesus’ beatitudes. See you in Lester @ 9:30 on Sunday!