“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” – 2 Timothy 3:12
What? Your pastor never told you that? The truth is that many fall away from the faith discouraged and confused because they were sold a lie that the cross is some self serving magical amulet that will make all their troubles go away and cause nothing but blessings, happiness, and goosebumps to fall upon them day and night. They were led to the cross but were never told they had to carry it.
“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” – Luke 9:23
Dear weary soul who thinks you must be doing something wrong for there to be so many hardships that come against you, that God must be displeased with you for so many people, (even friends, family, and church folk) to rise up against you, that God must be far off for all the world to resist you every time you try to serve God with an obedient heart when it seems that everyone else has it so good and easy. Allow me to encourage you. You are not doing anything wrong, the odds are that you are the only one who is doing something right. The truth is that this God stuff is real, and so are the enemies of it. Yes it is true, that as our opening passage states, “ALL” that live Godly “Will” suffer persecution because the only people who never come face to face with the devil are those already at his side.
Having said that, if you have not faced opposition for your faith and service to God from strangers, friends, family, and the devil himself, then fall on your face and repent because you are not actually saved. There is a war going on and you are part of it rather you want to be or not but when you truly get saved you become the enemy of a very nasty enemy. The fact that you become an enemy of the devil and that his efforts are now turned against you when before they were not is perhaps one of the greatest evidences of your salvation and right standing with God.
“And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;” – Philippians 1:28-29
Everyone’s level of persecution is different, some loose jobs, some loose friends or family, and some loose their lives, but never loose your joy. Remember that great is your reward in heaven if you stay the course and finish the race with endurance. Prove that your faith is not contingent upon your self gratification but rather is based upon your love of God who was willing to prove His love for you by enduring great sufferings on your behalf. Determine to do the same knowing that all suffering is temporary, but the heirship of God’s Glory is eternal.
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” – Romans 8:16-18
I am convinced that your position in heaven is determined by your disposition getting there. Don’t grow weary in well doing. Don’t let the attacks of the enemy harden you toward God or your fellow man. Do as Christ commanded in Matthew 5:44 and love your enemies, and pray for those that persecute you. Do you think He said those words in vain? No, He meant it quite literally. Don’t be discouraged by the attacks of the enemy but rather be encouraged that you are doing something right to have ticked off the devil! Rejoice with great gladness that you have become the enemy of the enemy of God! Count it all joy, as the apostle Paul said, and determine to have more fun giving the devil a hard time then he has trying to give you one. Live with purpose! You only have one life to live on this earth, so even if all of hell tries to stop you, serve God and live it well.
“But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:” – 1 Peter 3:14-18