The stories are compelling. We get reports, stories, and pictures from all over the world of Christians being beaten, killed, kidnapped and beheaded. We cringe. We cry out that is it so unfair, so terrible. Then there is not much else. We follow up by saying, “Isn’t it wonderful that we live in America where we are free to worship as we want.” You would be right. It is wonderful to live in America. We do have religious freedoms that other places do not have.
With these freedoms, we have taken for granted, even in the prevailing culture, that we can easily slip into and out of our relationship with Jesus. We may not be facing death, but Christians who are really following Jesus will face persecution. Maybe not beatings, but mocking at the least.
I remember being bounced off lockers in the locker room in high school. I was constantly mocked and ragged on about my faith. Over the years, I have lost jobs and job opportunities because of my faith in Jesus. I have never made a big deal about them, because to me, it comes with the territory. In John 15 Jesus makes it clear that ANYONE who really follows him will suffer. He says, “If the world hates you, understand that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you.”
When I was in college, one of my professors preached a revival. In the Sunday morning service, he made the statement that if you have never been persecuted for your faith, you are not living for Jesus the way you should. One elderly lady took offense at the statement and told him afterwards. He told her he stood by his statement. That afternoon, she thought about what Dr. G. had said. She came back that night, approached him, and said, “I thought all afternoon about what you said. I realized that I have not lived for Jesus the way I should. I did not stand up for him at times I should have, because I didn’t want to be made fun of. I let my Savior down. You were right and I am sorry.”
Have you ever been picked on or mistreated for your faith? If not, how strong are you living for your faith? Are you willing to really follow Jesus? Jesus said to deny yourself and follow him (Luke 9:23). Are you ready to follow him for real?
Let me know what you think.