“I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith. For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God. This is because they have never known the Father or me. Yes, I’m telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember my warning. I didn’t tell you earlier because I was going to be with you for a while longer. ” John 16:1-4 NLT
My Dad was none too happy when I started going to church with my Uncle Tom. Uncle Tom was and is a dyed in the wool Pentecostal, blood bought, Spirit baptized, Holy Ghost sanctified Christian. In Dad’s estimation a nice nut but a nut none the less.
When I decided to become a Christian and was born again Dad threatened to forbid me from church if I didn’t start thinking through my philosophies in life. From that point on Dad and I had lots of “lively discussions” about faith. I never considered it persecution really but it was definitely opposition. Dad made room for my Christianity but was sure to point out it was only because he was free thinking enough to let me make my own mistakes in life. He was sure it was all just a phase I would grow out of.
As I reflect on my situation I am so thankful my Dad was a free-thinker. The extent of my persecution has been some jocular ribbing from family members who think me the next generation of “nice nut”. Meanwhile brothers and sisters around the world are giving their lives for the cause of Christ.
This week we received word that Christians in Laos were raped and murdered while their families were forced to watch. Churches in India were burned to the ground and our denominational headquarters in the Ivory Coast was pillaged.
Paul in writing his second letter to Timothy said “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. ” II Tim 3:12 NLT
As the church in America faces these last days we need to recognize that we are in a blessed position that is not guaranteed to continue. In fact Scripture pretty much assures us that if we do our job of sharing Jesus it will not continue. It is an oddity that a gospel of love and hope should elicit a reaction of violence but that’s the way our world operates.
We used to sing a song in the church called “Hold the Fort” The chorus says ““Hold the fort, for I am coming,” Jesus signals still;
Wave the answer back to Heaven, “By Thy grace we will.” (Hold The Fort, Philip Bliss)
These are good words for the church to grasp hold of in these days. It’s time to trust in God’s grace to help us endure and more than that to powerfully spread the Good News that Jesus has died and risen again to save the lost! Any price we might pay will be made up as souls are added to the kingdom!
How do you think persecution will come to American Christians?