So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. 2 Timothy 1:8 (NIV).
Dear fellow believer, we’re going to suffer for this. You and me, because we boldly say, “I believe in Jesus,” are going to suffer. In just these last few days, hundreds of Christians have been murdered by Muslims in several African nations. In Iran, a pastor was recently detained and will serve 10 years hard labor for talking about Jesus. Churches in China are being torn down by their communist government. Here in the good old USA, the Federal government is actively trying to tear down a war memorial in Maryland because it’s the shape of a cross. In schools, universities, and work-rooms everywhere, talking about Jesus is a no-no while words about the NCAA brackets and Game of Thrones are encouraged.
Let’s be real: ‘suffering’ in America, for now, is pale compared to the persecution our brothers and sisters face overseas. That simply means the physical pain hasn’t reached our shores yet. Don’t be daft about it, my friend: it’s coming. Disaster, like grace, can come on us in an instant.
Because that’s so true, we shouldn’t be ashamed to be followers of the one true God. We should be proud to follow Jesus, proud to let Him work through us. We have become ‘captive’ to His Spirit and are prisoners of His good news. He holds the keys to our ‘captivity’ and loves us enough for us to stay in His confinement as long as we so wish. Fall under the love and gaze of the King of Kings and you’ll want only to remain prisoner in His presence.
But make no mistake about it. It’ll cost you. This world, fallen and rebellious to Him, will make you pay for professing your belief in Jesus Christ. The Romans, at the behest of the Jews (and then later on their own) imprisoned and abused Paul before eventually executing him. All for following Jesus. All for the rebellion of saying “no, I believe in Jesus of Nazareth.” It happened in the past. Even here in peaceful America, it can – and will – happen again.
You and I will be made to suffer for this belief, for this thing that is protected under our Constitution’s first amendment. We will emotionally suffer, economically suffer, physically suffer. In time (and it could happen quickly) the things (like worship) that we think are protected could change and a world hostile to Christ will turn against Him by targeting you.
When that happens, friend, let’s celebrate. Let’s smile in the face of the adversity, turn the other cheek while standing up for our faith, and be prepared to meet Jesus when our government does to us what Paul’s did to him.
For further reading: Mark 8:38, Ephesians 3:1, 2 Timothy 9.
Praise to You, Lord Jesus, that I may suffer for You.