Are You Ready for Persecution?

Perhaps persecution is coming for all of us, but as of right now we just don’t know too many Christians who are facing persecution.

In America we have it easy, there’s no threat of death. But if and when persecution comes it will be an opportunity for Christians to be able to truly experience discomfort and perhaps it may cause us to truly value eternity rather than this life. But we don’t have to be persecuted in order to learn this lesson. We can look at the fact that sin can’t bring lasting happiness; we can also see that the lack of persecution can’t give us what we want either. Peter had learned his lesson, that avoiding persecution through disobeying Jesus only brought pain. As our parents tell us to learn from their mistakes, in the same way, we can mature as believers by learning from Peter’s failures as well as his successes; he learned to truly value heaven above this life and whom he ultimately needed to please.

 

I have never been persecuted. Not really. Sure I’ve been called names, but my bank account and my health have not been affected in any way for being a Christian.

I recently did an informal (and most definitely unscientific) survey, asking people who they thought was the most mature Christian. Although I got many different answers, there was a trend. Most people pointed to someone who had suffered severe trials or even died for their faith.

It does seem that those who have been persecuted are more mature. They seem to evangelize more, to say no to sin more often and to be an encouragement to those around them.

Perhaps persecution is coming for all of us, but as of right now we just don’t know too many Christians who are facing persecution. We hear of the bakers, florists and millionaires on TV losing businesses and TV shows, but we have a long way to go to experience what the “others” in Hebrews 11:36-38 who were even sawn in two for their faith and whom the world was not worthy of.

So does this mean that we in the comfort of capitalism can’t grow in our maturity? Perhaps not to their level, but I think that by reading and meditating on their response to persecution can enable us to adopt their mindset, grow in our maturity and be ready to practice them when persecution comes our way.

There is no better place to go than Acts 4:13-31. By Acts 4, no Christian has yet been martyred, but the threat is obvious and real. They all saw their Savior get killed only weeks earlier and now they stand before the same Sanhedrin that sentenced Him to death. The apostles were about to face some serious persecution, but they were ready. And this first “trial” in Acts chapter 4 really prepares them to face horrible persecution later on in their lives. So here’s five lessons we can learn from their persecution.

  • Persecution reveals man’s blindness

If you’re reading this blog you probably already believe in the depravity of man. You also believe that man is dead, and that he is incapable of believing without God opening his eyes. But persecution allows you to look into the eyes of blindness like few others. They simply will not believe. Here you have Annas and Caiaphas and others who by now have heard about Jesus’ resurrection, tried to squash it, and yet thousands have believed. Peter and John heal a crippled man, preach a sermon and more get saved, and instead of believing the obvious, that Jesus is God, they dig down deeper and reject the obvious truth hitting them in the face. (Acts 4:16-17) They call the miracle “undeniable” and instead of repenting they respond by threatening the disciples. How blind do they have to be? And then I wonder, why do we continue to be shocked by the blindness of unbelievers? At least it seems that we are shocked by the fact that unbelievers are shocked by our beliefs. We literally believe that they are on their way to hell.  And we think this wouldn’t offend them?

We act like we can convince them to be okay with our views about homosexuality, abortion, etc.  As if their acceptance of these truths depends on  our well-crafted sentences. Or through our flawless reasoning, we will finally be able to convince people to live with the fact that God will punish them for their sin. So much of their time is spent justifying their sin, and we need to realize that in this life they will never accept our arguments apart from the Holy Spirit opening their eyes. The Gospel demands that they admit that their whole identity, that everything they have trusted in and believed in is wrong.

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