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Doubling-Down on Christian Persecution: The Cost of Following Jesus

Doubling-Down on Christian Persecution: The Cost of Following Jesus January 19, 2021

After my last article, warning Christians in America of persecution, I received no shortage of criticism. While some attempted to discredit me with comparisons of extreme physical persecution at various places around the world, others said I was outright imagining the persecution of Christians in America. And yet, ironically, in the very same comments section, others jeered, “I have a den of lions waiting for you all” and that my thinking was a “death trap” – yes, those were real comments. Sadly, it seems my point was validated; there is a growing resentment towards biblically-minded Christians.

It is probably worth clarifying that I am not comparing the developing trials in America to the intense persecution and martyrdoms of Christians elsewhere in the world. But I do contend that they are still trials and, should our nation continue an abandoning of the biblical moral ethic, such trials will yield to similar, intense, physical persecution. It might take a generation or two, but I assure you it will happen. The Apostle Paul says, without a hint of ambiguity declares that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). It is important that Christians recognize the nature and seriousness of this statement as we reflect on our lives. We are not excluded from this scriptural truth because we live in a country with religious freedom. We are not excluded because America was built on Christian ideals. No, this truth is as fresh and pregnant for us as it was for 1st century Christians.

Christian, like Peter in the courtyard, you will be challenged to evaluate the cost of following Jesus. You will be forced to ask yourself if Jesus is worth the pain. Likely, it will not be an immediate gun-to-the-head situation, where your answer influences if you live or die. Instead, I suspect the challenge be more subtle, with soft denials. You may be tempted to sugarcoat what scripture teaches about sexuality, to not hurt someone’s feelings. Or perhaps, you will be asked to perform a task at work that you know to be unethical and/or immoral. Or instead, you may be asked to change your language and avoid using “hateful” words found in scripture.

What an entire generation of Christians does not understand is that refusing to align your language, choices, and actions with scripture is a blatant denial of Christ Jesus. Attacks on the doctrine of scripture are attacks on Kingdom of God. Likewise, if we deny His word, we also deny Him. We cannot have it both ways. We cannot claim Jesus as our own and also continue to endorse the world’s philosophies. As the years continue to pile up in our postmodern society, so do the excuses Christians make about why they are willing to deny Jesus and His doctrine.

We would all do well to meditate on Jesus’ warning in Luke 9:62. He says, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Here, Jesus is reminding us all not to “look back” at the worldly life we left behind. In doing so, we err like Lot’s wife did in Sodom – not trusting God’s provision. When we take our eyes off the prize and look back at the world we left behind, we declare ourselves unfit for the kingdom of God. Oh, that we would be a generation that would inspect the plow and the field of work ahead with zeal!

Christian, a day is coming when you will be forced to make this very decision: plow forward or look back. At that moment, you will be coaxed to remember a simple, worldly life that didn’t care about attacks on scripture, truth, human dignity, or the person of Christ. On that day, you will be tempted to deny the very Lord that bought you (2 Peter 2:1). Prepare your heart now for that moment, Christian. Look forward and plow! Consider the cost of following Christ and give it gladly. Lay it it all down for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Remember, that it is “He who endures to the end that shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13).

Let us meditate our hearts on the apostle’s words in Philippians 3:8-10. He writes, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.

While our current persecution might be light, in comparison to what other brothers and sisters are experiencing in the world, it is still persecution. The doctrine and truth of God’s Word is being put to shame in our culture. It is time for you to decide if you will heed the call. Will you follow Christ or is the cost too much for you to bear? Far too long has the church been idle, ignoring this question. Will you take the yoke and plow the field for the Kingdom of God? Yes, there will be a cost for following Christ. But in such work, you will find joys and wonders of which you never dreamed. Pray that when you are forced to decide between plowing forward or looking back, you will choose the yoke of Christ. Pray that you will be a faithful slave of Christ. It is time for Christians to start owning that title.

In closing, let us go back to Peter, who denied Jesus 3 times in the courtyard. Bear in mind, that even in this gross sin of denial and “looking back,” he found grace and forgiveness. Jesus was firm but very kind to him in His rebuttal (see John 21). In this life, there is never a moment when you are outside the reach of God’s grace. Upon reflection, if you have found that you are in a state of “looking back,” then I encourage you to turn around and take hold of the plow. The harvest is plentiful. The world may hate you in the process, but Jesus’ yoke is “easy” and His “burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).

Seek Christ while He still may be found.

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