Sharing the Gospel of the Kingdom isn’t always a safe endeavour. At times, your reputation, your well-being, and even your life could be at stake. According to 2 Timothy 3:12, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
The Bible says that this is a fact. It’s not a “might happen” kind of scenario. There isn’t a chance that you’ll squeak by unscathed. Jesus tells us in no uncertain terms in Matthew 24:9 that you “will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and [you] will be hated by all nations because of me.” Since we represent Jesus as His ambassadors, we will be treated as Jesus was treated.
Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and again the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” This means that when you are persecuted or rejected because you are a believer … or as simple as ignored when you share the gospel with someone … there is a behind-the-scenes battle going on. The root, the cause, the underlying opposition is actually spiritual.
In John 15:18, Jesus told His disciples, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” And He said later,
“If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.” (John 15:20-21 NIV)
Why does this happen?
It happens because the message of the Cross of Christ offends people. The Son of God confronts humanity with their sin. His truth shines a floodlight on darkness, and that makes people uncomfortable – even hostile or angry. So, instead of reaching out for salvation when you share the Gospel with them, people may mistreat you. They may ridicule, or hurt you to get you to stop sharing the good news.
Don’t think it can happen where you are. Some recent examples in North America….
I read recently about a 19 year veteran of the United States Air Force who was placed under a new commanding officer who happened to be a lesbian. His commanding officer asked him about his views on same-sex marriage. The veteran replied that he did not believe his opinion on the matter got in the way of doing his job. She insisted that he answer the question. As a Christian, he said, he believed that a marriage was only between a man and a woman. Because of his answer, he was immediately relieved of his duties.
A federal judge threatened to incarcerate a high school valedictorian unless she removed all references to Jesus in her speech. In another city, officials prohibited senior citizens from praying over their meals at the senior citizen center.
In Portland, Maine, three Muslim men murdered a 49 year-old Christian man. He was found beaten to death, with blood splattered on the Bible that was on his bedside table. This did not happen in the Middle East. It happened in the United States.
Friends, persecution in the world is a present reality. At this moment there are people who stand against your message, and some will do whatever it takes to stop you.
But don’t be alarmed. This has been happening for a long time and it will continue to happen until the Lord returns. It hasn’t stopped the church yet. In fact, the opposite is true – it strengthens and grows the church.
Of course, if no one knows that you are a believer…
If your lifestyle is no different than your unsaved neighbours…
If you never speak about Jesus…
If you never defend the right of others to believe in Jesus…
Then you have little to no concern that someone may take offense and come again you, your beliefs and your message. You can simply live without fear of being persecuted for your faith because no one will know that you are a believer and followed of Christ. Sad!