November 07, 2011
During our Sunday evening Ambient Worship Experience we are in the middle of a series on the persecuted church. I thought it was appropriate that I share some of my thoughts on the subject.
First of all what is the definition of persecution?
Persecution is to oppress or harass with ill treatment and or torture for your religion, race, gender, and or beliefs.
Do we suffer persecution for our faith here in our country? I say we most certainly do. It may be different or more subtle than we see in other countries, but it still exists. We’ll get into that a little deeper in just a moment.
Let us focus for a moment on what God’s word says about this… what about Romans 8:31-39?
“What then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Now that’s an amazing direction given to us, a promise if you will. So what is the conclusion we must come to as a result of the scripture we just read?
Should we not have absolute security and victory as believers because of the love of God in Christ? If God would give the supreme gift of his Son at the Cross, why would he stop now? So in the face of trouble and persecution we must always remember the inseparable love of God!
I want to share an awesome quote with you from G. K. Chesterton, a British writer as well as Christian Apologist. He says, “Jesus promised his disciples three things--that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy, and in constant trouble!” That is so incredible, the paradox of happiness and trouble going together!!
Now as I promised earlier we will look at persecution here in our culture. So maybe you’re thinking, “We don’t really suffer persecution here in our country.” I assure you we do! Anything that attempts to minimize or compromise the Gospel… persecution! Anything or anyone that tries to disprove the Bible… persecution! Anything that attempts to desensitize us to the problems of this world, almost to the point that nothing shocks us anymore… persecution! Anything that tells us we don’t really have to worry about the narrow road, the broad road is just fine… persecution! Jesus gave us the way to follow him and he wanted us to be willing to die!
The challenge for us should be to take up our cross and die daily!! When we truly become followers of Jesus it will cost us everything!! Think about this for a moment; we can pursue comfort or we can pursue Jesus but we can’t do both! Persecution will always make us uncomfortable, but until we are willing to be uncomfortable we cannot grow!
I hope and pray we love until it hurts, we give until it hurts, and we live for Jesus until it hurts!!