Click here to read Part 1.
Click here to read Part 2.
Click here to read Part 3.
Click here to read Part 4.
Choosing to follow God equals loneliness. People might think that we are taking too much responsibility upon ourselves, or think we're deliberately making things hard for ourselves, or think that we're being too radical.
(What about a life in Christ isn't radical?)
Persecution—and the context for seeing great works of God—are the result of no compromise. One of my favorite examples is Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego from the book of Daniel.
Quick recap: These were Hebrew captives in Babylon when the Babylonian king decreed that everyone in the kingdom must bow to a giant idol when the music played. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego stood when others bowed, and were thrown alive into a furnace. The astonished king beheld not three men, but four, walking in the midst of the fire, and when he called the men to come out of the furnace, the three Hebrews came, without so much as the smell of smoke upon their garments. (The fourth man--an angel? the Lord Himself?--disappeared.)
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego could have rationalized that they weren't really bowing to the idol in their hearts, just with their bodies, and that the Lord really knew that they loved Him more than anything else. They could have decided that it was important to live because they might be able to influence their Persian captors for the Lord; who would do it if they didn't? But they didn't rationalize. They just said: "NO! We won't do anything that even looks like we're not giving God full glory!" And they made their witness.
This series is dedicated to the Christians suffering at the hands of ISIS. We remember you, we're praying for you, and we know that God is with you. Keep the faith!
I think it started when a friend asked me, "What is persecution? And if we're not facing it in our walk with Christ, does that mean we're compromising?"
I explored that topic more deeply with my best friend afterward. I'm still learning, but here are my thoughts.
None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.