“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Peter 5:8-11
I think more people become disillusioned with Christianity because they bought into it via a lie. They believed false advertising and when they didn’t get what they were promised they throw it down and walk away thinking, “it just doesn’t work for me”. What is this great lie that causes so many to become confused and discouraged? The lie that becoming a Christian will make your life easier. It won’t, in fact it will most assuredly make it harder.
Scripture tells us that to be friends with the world is to be an enemy of God, therefor it would also apply to say that to become a friend of God makes you an enemy of the world (James 4:4). Jesus made this point repeatedly in order to prepare His followers for the harsh reality of picking up their cross of affliction and crucifixion for the sake of others, and follow in His footsteps (Luke 9:23).
When you truly become a child of God you now have a real enemy in Satan (the ruler of this world) and all his minions (including those whom they control) (John 12:32). This is why Jesus said that He comes not to bring peace, but a sword, and that sword will cause division even among families (Matthew 10:34). You see the sword is the Word of God and those who truly believe it and live by it uncompromisingly will be put at odds with those who don’t. It is the great divider, that which separates the goats from the sheep, the wheat from the tears, the overcome from the overcomers.
“Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:11-12
Scripture tells us that persecution will (not might but will) arise because of the Word (Mark 4:17), and that all who will live Godly will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). Often from those you love most, and are trying with all your heart to save, including those of your own household. Don’t be discouraged when these things happen, know that you are not alone, abandoned, or forsaken. All those who truly live by every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God go through the same afflictions, and not them only but even Christ himself. It will do us good to remember that the servant is not better than His Master (John 15:20), if they resisted Christ, surely they will resist us, the ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).
However, there is an up side to it all that many forget to embrace! Every attack we face gives us the opportunity to humble ourselves and love like Christ! That is to say, to love selflessly those that persecute us, curse us, slander us, hate us, use us, and resist us. All of which will cause you to gain great rewards in eternity if reacted to with patience and love! (Matthew 5:12) This humbling in faith to the obedience of God’s word also causes God to release a greater measure of grace unto us in this life, which is his favor and power! (James 4:6)
Know that the trial will not last forever, those that don’t give up or given in to bitterness but rather endure in love until the end, will be saved by the mighty hand of God Himself, building your faith to greater and greater levels! (Matthew 24:13) Therefore, rejoice when you are attacked by the enemy and hated by men! These things are working together for your good, to strengthen you, empower you, and bring you great reward! (Romans 8:28) Yes in this life there will be tribulation, but be of good cheer, for our God has overcome the world! (John 16:33) Understand that for the sinner, the rewards are temporary, but their troubles are eternal. For the Christian, the troubles are temporary, but our rewards are eternal. To be a real Christian is not always easy, but it is always worth it in the end, for those that trust in the Lord shall never be ashamed. (Romans 10:11) Remember that the best destinations often take you through the hardest journeys.
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” – James 1:2-5
“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 1:29
“…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 8:17-18