What Christians Should Know about Preparing for Persecution
- Jason Soroski Contributing Writer
- 2021 15 Nov
Persecution is not necessarily a popular topic, yet it is one that takes up a major part of the New Testament. No one wants to be persecuted, yet Jesus holds nothing back in assuring us that His followers will be. All of the Apostles suffered great persecution, and it was well-known for the next several centuries that accepting Christ meant accepting hatred and persecution. We often seem to think to ourselves that these things happened a long time ago, and things were different then, so things are different for us today. Yet Christ promises that we will suffer for following Him. Knowing this, should Christians expect to be persecuted in the near future? No, Christians should expect to be persecuted today.
“You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” - Matthew 10:22
This World Is Not My Home
Anyone who teaches that this world is the end goal, or that the Kingdom of Heaven is ours to create here on earth is misleading you. It is clear throughout Scripture that we are not of this world, and although we strive to make it a better place, it will only be redeemed when God brings about the final restoration. This is perhaps best articulated in Hebrews 13:14-16:
“For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
The idea of living our best life now is based not on what this world has to offer, but what Christ has to offer the world. We find our ultimate peace, joy, and confidence when we are seeking the will of God, and sometimes that can lead us to places that are far from fame and fortune, and comfort.
Can We Avoid Persecution?
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” - Romans 8:17
Before the Resurrection, there was the crucifixion. If we are believers in Christ, we are following the One who suffered great persecution, even death, on our behalf.
Jesus was the kindest, most honest human being who ever walked the face of this planet. He was the embodiment of love, peace, and joy. The only perfect person who ever lived was hated, beaten, despised, sentenced to death, and crucified on a criminal’s cross. He tells us to expect the same, and that unless we take up a cross, we are not truly his followers. What a detestable lie that we should live in shallow comfort at the expense of the saints who went before us!
Yet there seems to be a distinctly ‘American’ concept that the early church took on this persecution so that we don’t have to. It is true that we live in a time and place where faith is practiced openly and ingrained in all we do as Americans. Yet this is not the case throughout the world, and at any moment, could no longer be the case here. In the West, we have lived through a period of progress, prosperity, and civility.
We know through the words of Christ Himself that the Church will be at odds with the world until Jesus comes. Across the globe, believers are persecuted daily. Prison, torture, and death are understood to be part of the deal when accepting Christ. Yet people continue to turn to Him in greater numbers than at any time in history.
Are We Willing to Suffer?
“...and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up?” - Daniel 3:14
We know that these three faithful young men did not bow down to the king’s idol, that they were thrown into the furnace, and that they came out unscathed. Yet how easy, how culturally acceptable it would have been for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to simply blend in, get it over with, and bow down to an idol. How simple it could have been to talk themselves into just ‘going with the flow’ and thinking that it was not a big deal and everyone is doing it.
They could have rationalized that this would allow them an opportunity to show believers aren’t so weird after all, do all the same ‘cool’ things as everyone else, and maybe they could use it as a witnessing opportunity. Thankfully, these three knew better. They knew that their witness would mean standing out and would lead to persecution and most likely death, and their story resulted in a miracle that inspires and encourages us thousands of years later in a part of the world they never even knew existed. Like these three faithful men, so we must be willing to suffer for the name of Jesus, no matter what the consequences may be.
Being Ready before it Happens
“For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” - 2 Corinthians 1:5
So why did they do it? Why would anyone give up health, prosperity, and a long life in order to stand boldly for Christ and open themselves up to persecution?
We do it because we are assured that our citizenship in His Kingdom, and our belonging in His family, far supersedes anything that this world has to offer. It is because we know that we have a hope that there is so much more than this. We believe that Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us and that one day this earth will be restored as He created and intended it.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” - John 10:10
This is the hope we have and the salvation that urges us to press on no matter what persecution may come. Christianity does not offer a promise of an easy life, but a fulfilling and meaningful life. In response, may we press into Jesus, dig deep into His Word, and seek all that He has for us. Persecution will come. But in the end, we know that He is true, He is good, and we count all things as loss compared to the all-surpassing worth of knowing Him (Philippians 3:8).
Photo credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/tommaso79
Jason Soroski is a homeschool dad and member of the worship team at matthias lot church in St. Charles, MO. He spends his free time hanging out with his family, exploring new places, and writing about the experiences. Connect on Facebook or at JasonSoroski.net.