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.
The Promise of Persecution
If I love Christ, it is certain that I will suffer persecution and pain. Not just a possibility, but a guarantee.
2 Timothy 3:12
If I desire to live godly in Christ Jesus, there's no second option; I must expect to face persecution.
From The Overcoming Life by Dwight L. Moody
Zeal Results in Persecution
When I truly love Christ, my zeal and my desperation to know Him and honor Him will prompt me to speak and do things that are righteous--but unpopular. The Holy Spirit may compel me to speak an unpopular truth in a situation where I open myself up to persecution. It's really only a matter of time.
Elijah did not speak popular truths in the face of evil, nor did Jeremiah. And if we're tempted to believe only prophets are given the authority to speak out, then we must consider the numerous other people in the Bible who were simply goaded by the Holy Spirit to live righteously and to confront wickedness. We don't have to be special to suffer.
In the Bible, we see that there are two parts to being righteous—doing good and confronting evil. Job exemplifies this in chapter 29:
1 Whoever heard me spoke well of me, and those who saw me commended me, 12 because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist them. 13 The one who was dying blessed me; I made the widow’s heart sing. 14 I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and my turban. 15 I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. 16 I was a father to the needy; I took up the case of the stranger.
Up to this point, the language is not all that shocking; this is the type of good works that God expects. We’re used to hearing about this sort of thing. (Although, let me point out, very few of us actually do all that much about helping the poor and the widow and the fatherless. We send money to some charity but we don’t consistently seek out the needy in our own community.)
But here’s the forgotten part of righteousness:
17 I broke the fangs of the wicked and snatched the victims from their teeth.
Do we confront wickedness? Chances are, we warn each other about not falling to wickedness, but we don’t do much about the wickedness when we’re face to face with it. Yet all those who were truly righteous in the Bible confronted evil, sometimes very vehemently.
I admit that we must temper godly confrontation with love, and discern between times that call for boldness and times that call for gentleness. But an integral part of standing up for righteousness is identifying evil, and far too often, we focus on the positivity of the truth to the exclusion of appropriate warnings about the accompanying lies.
If we did truly do righteous deeds—consistently—and if we did truly confront the wickedness in a culture that thumbs its nose at God, what might we suffer as a result?
To Be Continued in Part Two...
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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.