Tag Archives: Persecution

Cost of being a Jesus follower

 

…and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. Mt. 10: 16-33

How to conduct themselves in the world
While commissioning His disciples Jesus warned them that they will be like sheep among wolves, so He charged them to be shrewd (like serpents) and innocent to evil (as doves).
What to expect from people

  1. People will falsely accuse you, ill-treat you, frame you, persecute you and bring you to trial because you bear the name of Christ. But these are opportunities to be His witness.
  2. Members of the family will turn against you and betray you.
  3. “…you will be hated by all for my name’s sake.” (v. 22)

How to respond to persecution
Holy Spirit will enable you to speak the right words at that moment. (vv. 19-20). Those who endure till the end will be saved. Flee from the place of persecution.
The Attitude

  1. Be happy to be like the Master. The disciple should not expect a better treatment than what His Master received. The highest goal of a disciple is to be like his Master. If the Master was called Satan, we will be named worse.
  2. Do not fear people, boldly proclaim the truth. People can kill only your body, you will still live eternally. God can throw the wicked in hell for ever.
  3. God cares about every detail of your life. You are more precious to Him than the rest of creation. He is in absolute control and knows in detail what is happening in your life. He has numbered the hairs on your head and if one hair falls, He knows which one has fallen.
  4. Those who openly acknowledge Jesus as their Lord will be acknowledged by Him in heaven before the Father and those who deny Jesus will be denied by Him before God the Father.
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Allowing God to work through you

Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” (Acts.5:29-32) NIV

Ignoring an eye-opener

Peter and John were locked up in prison for doing the ministry as God directed them. God was with them and He commands His angel to unlock and free them, not for a comfortable ministry, but to be booked again. God directed them to the Temple and they start teaching there. Meanwhile the authorities summon the prisoners for investigations and probably with the idea of silencing them. But God has His purposes fulfilled in all these unpleasant situations. The Apostles let God have His way through their lives and the authorities were confused about the missing prisoners. To their surprise they discover that the Apostles are still free and doing what they had prohibited. This was more than an eye opener for any open minded truth seeking individual regarding what the Apostles were proclaiming. However, they chose to ignore it and secure their seats of power.

Opposing God

The authorities obviously recognized the supernatural element in the message of the Apostles. They also realized the influence these men had up on the lives of the people. So the police behaved gently with the Apostles (Acts:5:26). The Council blamed the Apostles for teaching in the name of Jesus while the Apostles blamed the Council for the killing of Jesus. Peter in his explanation asserted that Jesus was the Messiah who rose from the grave and is alive and willing to forgive the nation for their sins when they turn back to Him. However, the Council was not ready to accept the Apostles’ explanation. They wanted to get rid of them because of their stand to “obey God rather than men”. One among the Council was a wise and mature man named Gamaliel. His advise was more of common sense. He said,

“…Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:38-39)

Gamaliel probably had the inkling that the Apostles were on a supernatural mission as their message and the attesting miracles revealed. This message had the power to transform lives and opposing it will be opposing God Himself.

The Church has been commanded to proclaim this message of salvation to the entire world. As opposition and threat mounts we must remember that we should be obeying God rather than men. The fear of men will cause us to water down the message or conveniently alter it to suit the situation. Let God’s message be proclaimed as God intended it to be. Allow God to do His work. If you fear men, don’t meddle with God’s business, better keep away. The Apostles were warned and whipped but they never stopped proclaiming the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. They allowed God to work through them. They were happy that God found them worthy to suffer for the sake of Christ.

What do you boast about?

Those who are trying to force you to be circumcised want to look good to others. They don’t want to be persecuted for teaching that the cross of Christ alone can save. And even those who advocate circumcision don’t keep the whole law themselves. They only want you to be circumcised so they can boast about it and claim you as their disciples.

As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God. (Gal.6:12-16)

Do you feel proud about being religious? Do you boast about your achievements? Do you take credit for what you possess that which you can never earn?

Religions tell us to work our way to god. Those who tirelessly follow the “to do” lists of religions often boast about their achievements. They feel they are eventually making god obligated to them. There are also those who think they are equal to god, thus making it possible for the humans to achieve practically anything or everything.

Promoting Rituals

Most people swear by rituals. Every culture is full of them. Rituals are part of religion. Christian Religion is no exception. It is our attempt to find God. Since it is human effort people will take credit for it. But the Bible says that no one can become acceptable to God by being religious or by observing rituals, however faithful they might be.

As long as you encourage others to follow some rituals you are in vogue. You earn name and fame, position and influence, money and perks. Promoting rituals is boasting in self and it will last only till we last.

Preaching the Cross

The Bible tells us that a Christian has nothing to boast about himself. The only thing he can boast about is the Cross of his Savior because he is saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, in what Jesus has accomplished on the cross.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. (Eph.2:8-9)

Every Christian is commanded to preach the message of the Cross, because it is the power of God unto salvation (Rom.1:16). The message of the cross excludes all rituals and human efforts and is highlighted as the only way to reach God. When you preach this way you will invite opposition, threats and persecution. That is one of the reasons why several people are content with promoting rituals.

However, the ultimate yardstick of effectiveness is the resultant transformation. The real thing is the new life that we receive from God through faith in Jesus Christ, just because of what Jesus has done on the cross. Neither religion nor rituals can do this. And all of it is a free gift from God. Aren’t you glad for the cross of Christ?

So, if at all I boast, let me boast of the cross of Christ, by which I have been transformed in my relationship with all that is temporal.