It is good to be back writing this blog on a consistent basis. Like I have said many times, this may be basic to some but I believe that we all need time to stop and re-evaluate our relationship with Christ and also with others. You see the relationship between God and others affects each other and must be worked on simultaneously. I believe this is why Jesus gave us these two commands together. He was asked which “one” was the greatest and He said, “Love the Lord your God,” but then He said, “But the other is like it”. Sometimes I think we use the fact that the first one is the “greatest” as an excuse not to try to work on our relationships with others.
We have looked at many positive (or what we could call positive) characteristics and examples for this life with Jesus. I wish I could stop and say this means you will never go through hardships and persecution in this life with Jesus. Unfortunately the Bible promises us the opposite in this life. Let’s look at a couple of the passages and break them down so that we can understand why this life comes with persecution.
“If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours. But they will do all these things to you on account of My name, because they don’t know the One who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin. Now they have no excuse for their sin. (John 15:18-22)
- 1. Don’t think you are the only one.
- I think so many of us get caught in the feeling that no one else has been through what we are going through. We even go as far as to say at no one has gone through it as bad. Both of these areas of thought are nothing but pride and self-pity. Jesus clearly states that we will be hated, because they hated Him first.
- 2. If we are like Him then we will be persecuted.
- He continues to say that if we were of the world the world would love us. This causes me to ask the question, “Are we being questioned by the world?” One of the greatest tragedies in the believer’s life is that they never are questioned or persecuted for what they believe. We are left alone by the world and the enemy because we are not a threat to Him. Many feel that they must be a threat because of all the stuff that happens to them that keeps them from, “stepping forward” or “doing what I know I need to do”. This attitude is something that is dangerous to many believers because they are using this as an excuse to not do anything. Even though the “attacks” are showing them the potential they have in the eyes of the enemy. This means that we are wasting the talents, faith and abilities that we have been given. I think that when the enemy attacks and we continue to walk forward then that is when true courage is found.
- 3. People are without excuse for their sin.
- Thank you Jesus for coming down and showing us that we have a clear choice in this life!!! Do people see that in us? Do they see the way we react or handle things and say, “they could have done something different.” I guess many people see the believers handle things the same way everyone else would and we get the name hypocrites because we are. Maybe we need to stop before we react and ask ourselves how would the world handle it and then do the opposite. Just a thought….
Just one thing: live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, working side by side for the faith of the gospel, not being frightened in any way by your opponents. This is evidence of their destruction, but of your deliverance—and this is from God. For it has been given to you on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him, having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear about me. (Philippians 1:27-30).
- 1. Do we long to suffer for Him?
- a. I know that I used this passage before in this study but I want to look at the last two verses. This passage says that we have two things that we need to do for Him. The first is the part that we like because it is all about receiving Him in belief through faith not works. But the second one is a lot harder for us to understand. He is not giving us another step in Salvation but He is saying that once you believe, then you will have to struggle and suffer. Most of us will not be martyred or suffer that kind of persecution but we have to give up some of our desires and change the way we think and put others before ourselves. This for many seems like suffering and at times it can be suffering. But I have learned that the longer that you practice this and keep asking God for help in this area the easier it gets. Not only does it get easier it becomes your desire and you begin to long for the opportunities to reflect Jesus in this dark world. May we all long for this in our lives.
For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. They are focused on earthly things, but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself. (Philippians 3:18-21)
- 1. Are we heartbroken over sin?
- I have also used this passage once before. I was struck by something in this passage that made me really ask myself, “Do I get heartbroken over sin?” I know we may get this way over sin in our own lives but what about sin in others. When we see or hear people take the Lord’s name in vain, does it break our hearts or is it something that we are just used to hearing? Notice that we are talking about getting heartbroken–not angry. We have a tendency to get angry and then we go off and start taking names, but we never get heartbroken. I think there are only a few times that we should get angry but then we are called not to sin in that anger. It should break us to see people getting farther away from God. It should break our hearts when we hear people murder people with their words. It should break our hearts when God is not given His due. I think many of us should stop and ask why we are not heartbroken. Do we shed tears over these things? I think we try to be the tool of destruction instead of being the tool of restoration. God will subject everything to Himself.
In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Evil people and imposters will become worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing those from whom you learned, and that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:12-17)
- 1. Do we hang on to this promise?
- Yes, this is pretty clear that with maturity comes persecution. Not only will there be persecution but it will get worse. How uplifting is this?
- 2. The Bible is our source of power?
- Through the scriptures we find a firm foundation that God is for us. In His scripture we find that He has given us the Holy Spirit to do greater things than He. We are taught how to rely on Him and to those that He has brought into our lives. We see His plan for us. A plan to prosper us, a plan to give us wings like an eagle so that we can soar over the issues of life. We are so blessed that we have been given a tool to live through, handle, an even have victory over persecution. It starts with the scripture and ends in relationships. We have been given everything we need! It is time we use it!
Well, that is it for now. I will write again soon as we continue to learn together about this life with Jesus.
In His Grip,