Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12)
The New Testament authors write about suffering and persecution in the Christian’s life over 60 times. Moreover, the Apostle Paul sets the expectation for persecution in an obedient Christ-follower’s life (2 Timothy 3:12). While I do not believe Scripture teaches that we are to seek out suffering and persecution, I am currently wrestling with the following question: What am I doing in my life today to prevent suffering for Jesus Christ?
It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. (Galatians 6:12)
The godly life that brings persecution is one that identifies with Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 1:8, Hebrews 13:12-13), puts sin to death (Colossians 3:5-10, 1 Peter 4:3-4), strives for holiness (Colossians 3:12-17, 1 Peter3:16-17), and proclaims the gospel (2 Timothy 1:10-12a) while holding fast to Scripture (2 Timothy 3:14-17).
Therefore, the specific questions I am currently prayerfully wrestling through:
- Am I striving to be a man pleaser, rather than a God pleaser? (Galatians 1:10)
- Am I silent about Jesus Christ or am I making an effort to share the gospel with a lost world? (Matthew 28:19-20, 2 Corinthians 5:20)
- Am I enticed by the things of this world or am I denying myself while pursuing Jesus Christ as His disciple? (Luke 9:23, 14:25-33, 1 John 2:15-16)
- Am I tolerating sin in my life and being entertained by it in society, rather than putting it to death and being repulsed? (Romans 6:11, 12:9b)
I am convinced that more outright and frequent persecution of Christ-followers is upon us as America’s cultural landscape changes. This can serve as a litmus test for our faithfulness to Christ and His Word. 20th century Bible teacher Dr. Harry Ironside powerfully stated, “if to some extent we are not the objects of the world’s hatred, if we do not have the disapproval of those who despise Christianity, if we are not evil spoken of as were the prophets of God of old, then we may very well raise the question as to whether we are living godly lives or not. Persecution is inevitable for those who are faithful to God in a world like this, where evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
I pray that we all strive to live godly lives leading to persecution; and rejoice that we are counted worthy to suffer dishonor for His Name (Acts 5:41).