The persecution of American Christians is almost negligible compared to what is going around the world today. Because of the rise of Islamic terrorism and the religious persecution it brings, it has been estimated that every five minutes another Christian is martyred for their faith somewhere in Africa or the Middle East. This Sunday is the “International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church“. On this Sunday, my hope as your pastor is 3 fold; 1.) To raise your awareness of the tremendous persecution that is taking place around the world. 2.) To give you some suggestions on what you might be able to do for your suffering brethren. 3.) To ready your heart for suffering and persecution if and when it comes your way.
Paul wrote to young Timothy – “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” 2 Timothy 3:12, NKJV.
Persecution is fact of life. And if you are not suffering any persecution, it just might be because you are blending in to the world system too much. Did you notice the condition for persecution in the above verse? “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus“… I truly believe that even in America, Christians who truly live godly will stand out to the point that they will not fit in and will clash with the standards and values of the world around them. We don’t have to try to be weird or dress oddly. All we have to do is truly desire to “live godly in Christ Jesus“. I promise you, if this is our desire, our entertainments will be different, our free time will be spent differently and our words and actions will be nothing like the words and actions of the unbelievers we know.
This is how the NLT sums it up – “Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will go on deceiving others, and they themselves will be deceived. But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.” 2 Timothy 3:12-17
It’s been said that the scriptures will keep you from sin and sin will keep you from the scriptures.