27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
Paul had endured much suffering in order to bring Christ to the world. He was stoned to death, then resurrected; He was shipwrecked; bitten by poisonous snakes; plans were made to murder him, but he escaped, and much more. In the United States, it has been, until recently, very easy to claim the name of Christ. It was a badge of honor. Now, a new era is upon us. People who call themselves “tolerant”, are tolerant only of those who believe the same way that they do. There is no room in their worldview for people with differing opinions. On college campuses, “safe spaces” have been created so that people can have a refuge from opinions, values, thoughts, or actions that would challenge or possibly offend them.
When people fail to bow to their “superior” understanding of “tolerance”, they use the law to financially destroy their opponents, and beat them into submission with the threat of financial and property confiscation. This can be seen in the treatment of business owners who refuse to compromise their beliefs and convictions in Christ. It would be egregious to ask that a homosexual baker provide cakes for a gathering that say, “Homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.” In the same way, it is egregious to ask a Christian baker to provide cakes for a homosexual civil union with rainbow colors and a pro-homosexual message – even if it is just two men or two women on top of the cake holding hands. These social justice warriors DEMAND that the Christian-owned businesses not only provide their artistic services for messages counter to their beliefs, they must publicly acknowledge and AGREE with the message they are required to (now by law) provide.
But this is not the first time that Christians have been denied the right of property ownership because of their faith. Hebrews 10:34 says:
You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.
Suffering for being a Christian has been going on for two millennia. We are only starting to see this in the Church in the United States of America. But this is a good thing. Every time there has been suffering for the cause of Christ, a winnowing of the church body occurs. The wheat kernels fall to the ground, and the chaff blow away in the wind. Faith increases within the body of Christ, and the body tends to grow in response.
Are you being persecuted for your faith? You are in good company! Jesus was falsely accused. He was railroaded through the justice system. He was accused of being a child of Satan. He was asked to leave a town where he had performed a great miracle. Many of the prophets and righteous men and women living in the past suffered the same and more. Rejoice! You have been found worthy!
So, let’s ask the question: If you were dragged into a court, would there be sufficient evidence to convict you of being a “Christian“?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, You are glorious to behold. You have shown us through Your Son that suffering is part of our sanctification process. Help me to endure all suffering on Your behalf, and may my faith grow stronger every day that I am in the crucible being refined. Give me the words to say and the restraint needed when I am falsely accused, and there are financial and career losses. May my heart rejoice, as I look forward to my heavenly inheritance. Comfort me through these trials, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?