Tag Archives: persecution

The Reason Why The World Does Not Know Us…

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

1 John 3:1 – Scripture of the Weekend (March 8-9,2014)

I would like to comment on the second part of this verse first because of something that happened to me last week.  As I’m sure you’re aware, there is much furor in our country over same-sex marriage, its acceptance by some, and whether not accepting it is a form of hateful bigotry.  Businesses owned by Christians who declined to work for same-sex weddings on the fear of condoning an event which they consider to be immoral are being successfully sued and fined, which has led to the debate of whether Christians in the United States of America have the freedom to follow the dictates of their religion and conscience.  Last week I found myself in a conversation with an individual who obviously was not a Christian and was very much a proponent of same-sex marriage and homosexual rights.  When I pointed out that my rights as a Christian to follow the dictates of my religion were in danger of being ignored and that I could even be punished for following my religion, he responded with nothing but disdain.

So I understand when John tells me, “The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”  Our society is becoming more and more godless.  Less young people now than ever before identify themselves as religious, much less as Christian.  My fellow Americans who are trying hard to be faithful Christians and have been used to living in a society where more people than not identified with Christianity, we must recognize that we are coming closer and closer to living in a culture in which people will not know (understand) us as faithful Christians…and the reason for this is because they do not know (understand) our God.

Yet…we are still God’s children.  “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are…”  We are still children of the Most High God.  Jehovah has still saved us by his love and grace.  We still have the undeserved, highest honor of wearing the name “Christian” (1 Pet. 4:16).  We are still heaven-bound.  We still serve a greater Cause, in fact the greatest Cause.  Whatever persecution comes our way, let us rejoice and be glad for it, because it comes because we are servants of Jesus Christ (Matt. 5:10-12; James 1:2-4).

Let Us Run With Endurance The Race That Is Set Before Us…

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2 – Scripture of the Day (January 30, 2014)

Contextually, the writer of Hebrews had just finished talking about the giants of faith whose lives are recorded in the Old Testament (Heb. 11).  These men and women, while not perfect, nevertheless sacrificed much to obey God, some of them even sacrificing their lives, because they desired to live in that heavenly country.  He then mentioned Jesus, “the founder and perfecter of our faith,” who made the decision to endure and “despise” (literally, “think little of”) the most painful, humiliating death of his day because he too was focused on “the joy set before him.”

If you are doing your best to put Jesus and his will first in your life, no matter what, you know that it’s not easy at times.  Persecutions happen (2 Tim. 3:12).  At times you suffer in various ways for doing what God wants you to do.  If you’re like me, you think about giving up during some of those hard times.

However, most of us can say what the Hebrew writer went on to point out to the Christians of his day:  “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood” (Heb. 12:4).  He’s right.  Some of those Old Testament giants of faith “were tortured, refusing to accept release”; they “suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment”; they “were stoned…sawn in two…killed with the sword”; they “went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated…” (Heb. 11:35-38).  Jesus himself died in a horrible way to save us from our sins.  Compared to that, the burdens we face seem quite small.

That’s why we are told to “consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted” (Heb. 12:3).

Do Not Think That I Have Come To Bring Peace To The Earth…

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Matthew 10:34 – Scripture Of The Day (January 13, 2014)

The most common question about this verse which I as a preacher receive usually goes something like this:  “How can Jesus say this when he is the Prince of Peace and the angels were talking about peace on earth the night he was born?”

Good question, and the biblical answer revolves around context (as is usually the case with most questions about what the Bible says.)  Yes, Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s messianic prophecy about the Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6).  Yes, Jesus and his apostles promoted peace in their teachings (Matt. 5:9; Rom. 14:19; 2 Cor. 13:11; Gal. 5:22; Eph. 2:14-17; 4:3; 1 Thess. 5:13; 2 Tim. 2:22).  So why does Jesus seemingly contradict himself by saying, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth”?

This verse comes in the middle of a discourse in which Christ is sending his twelve apostles throughout Israel to preach the gospel of the kingdom and is telling them what to expect (Matt. 10:1ff).  He warned them that they will suffer severe persecution due to preaching his message…but to not fear because God is with them (vs. 16-33).  It is in that context – the context of warning them about how sinful men will react to God’s message that they preach – that he tells them that he has come to bring a sword rather than peace to the earth.  Immediately after making that statement, he alluded to how even families will be divided because some will heed his message while others will not (vs. 35-39).  Thus, the lack of peace comes not directly because of Jesus, but because sinful men reject his teachings of peace.

What was true then is true today.  I just read of a Christian missionary who was hacked to death by a husband simply for baptizing his wife.  Faithful Christians have always been disowned, ostracized, fired, spit upon, bullied, beaten, or killed for simply following the teachings of Jesus Christ, teachings which promote love, peace, unity, harmony, and good will towards all…yet also have the nerve to say that some actions and attitudes of men are wrong and will lead to hell.  Sinful people don’t like to be told that they’re wrong, and will react in non-peaceful ways to those who tell them so, no matter how lovingly and peacefully.  That’s why following and proclaiming the teachings of Jesus will bring a sword rather than peace.  It’s not Jesus’ fault that happens.  It’s ours.

How do you react to the teachings of Christ…especially when they step on your toes?