1 Peter 4: 12-16
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory is revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, be happy; for the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”
Not long ago, I was sitting in a church service that made me uneasy at first. I knew that it was planned for a certain minister to be preaching. He has a great ministry from everything I have seen. However, knowing the topic of what he was to be preaching about worried me. When one comes to discuss Revelations and such with a group of people, you really don’t know what you’re going to get. A lot of people are depressed thinking about the “end of the world”. At that time, I really couldn’t take any more depressing thoughts. Aren’t we as Christians supposed to be excited for Jesus’s return?
I was worried. Yet, as he started and continued his sermon he did a great job expressing hope in Jesus’s return and how we as the Church, the Bride of Christ should approach the end time with a readiness to preach His Gospel, to be the Army of Christ. It was refreshing.
Then, he went on to reassure us that there are certain scriptures in the Bible that scholars believe point to our nation being the protection of Israel. If that is the case, he reasoned, we will not have to worry about being under the rule of the Antichrist. We will not be persecuted in this country because we are to protect the Children of God. The whole church cheered, I included. What a great thought! We will be the strong ones! We will somehow escape the Antichrist’s reach! We will not be deceived!
Lord, forgive me.
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you; but REJOICE, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, that when his glory is revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4 12-13
“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
I rejoiced with a church about the idea that I would not have to suffer during these end times. How pathetic is that? My brothers and sisters in Christ are being beaten, brutally mutilated, starved, deprived of the “glories” of this life, killed all over the world for Christ’s sake. And I’m over here, in this easy life I complain about, rejoicing in the fact I don’t have to suffer. No wonder God said that He would spew those lukewarm out of His mouth (Revelation 3:16). I lack the Holiness of God and I still find this apathy disgusting. How can I claim to love Christ when I so willingly flee persecution? The persecution for preaching the gospel, the persecution for showing Christ’s love and grace to others.
Many would claim we are persecuted. “Oh, the church is being hit left and right in this country!” Really? Are you being beaten? Forced into slavery? Mutilated? Forced to watch your family die in front of you by the hands of the enemy?
Or are you just being told to sit down and shut up? You call that persecution? Really? That’s the cross you’re calling too heavy? You sit down just as the enemy has demanded. You have no strength to even stand up and say: “NO! I will not sit down and remain quiet! I will declare that Jesus is Lord!” You sit on the bench of life just watching as a world of people are walking by, mocking God, the One you claim to love. You sit with a burger and shake of contentment at a diner right outside of hell as the creations of God are marching straight in there and you are doing nothing!