I have always made it my habit not to get involved in the current affairs dialogue. A casual discussion on politics or economics with some friends over a nice dinner is about as far as I like to go. This morning I am prompted to offer some words of encouragement for all of us who call ourselves Christians. Obviously it goes without saying that we are living in very interesting times and for many of us we are experiencing a wide range of emotions about many of the things happening in the world today. And with this comes lots of questions like, “What should we do?” “How can this be happening?” “Where are our rights as Christians?”
There is no doubt that there are many things happening today that directly threaten Christians as they want to walk out their beliefs personally and freely. This should really come as no surprise to us. Paul said that “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12) and Jesus told His disciples “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18). The question we are facing in the world today as Christians has nothing to do with religious freedom. The issue that we are facing and will face more significantly in the days ahead has everything to do with the age-old battle between God and His arch enemy, the devil. This is the enmity that has existed since the very beginning in the garden of Eden and one that will continue until “He has put all His enemies under His feet” (1 Cor. 15:25).
Persecution has always been a reality for Christians and will always be until the kingdom of God comes in its fullness in the return of Christ Jesus. Until that time comes Christians must realise that persecution is a very real part of being a disciple of Christ.
One of the things that always amuses me is when Christians think that they inherently have some “right” to being able to practice their Christianity freely as though the world is going to protect them and give them all the comforts they desire to live out their Christian beliefs. Any freedom that Christians may experience to practice their commitment to the Lord outwardly is simply a blessing from the Lord and should never be construed as a “right.” The thought that government or some other manmade institution has the power or position to grant freedom to Christians is a fundamental flaw in our thinking as Christians.
We must also understand that being Christian is not being religious. Being Christian is Christ. It is Christ in us and us living our lives by the reality of His life in us at all times. Christians possess the life of Christ and therefore pose a direct threat to the devil and his agenda in the world today. Religion has never posed a threat to the devil. In fact Jesus told the most religious people of His day that “you are of your father the devil” (John 8:44).
Persecution is simply the result of the devil, acting through his children, to attack the life of Christ living in His children. The sooner Christians can see this clearly the better off we will be. We can then face the future with all the hope and assurance that God has given us. For we know that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, neither tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword. It is in all these things that we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. (Rom. 8:35-37)
So my encouragement today is for all of us who truly desire to follow Christ Jesus and to live out the reality of His life in us. We can be at peace knowing that the fiery ordeal around us is part of God’s ultimate plan. We can know that we are not in this place by mistake or by some misinformed government institution. We are in the middle of God’s will for our lives as His children. We must just remain steadfast and know that “After we have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish us” (1 Peter 5:10).