Friends, there is no doubt that persecution is upon the church. But, let us examine ourselves to make sure that any persecution, rejection, ridicule or hardship we face is truly for Christ and not just because we are loud-mouthed, or rude, or obnoxious, or participating in illegal activity or incendiary rhetoric.
The Apostle Peter writes clearly to all the churches in the known world at the time, encouraging them to stand strong during persecution- just make sure you aren’t bringing it on yourself with obnoxious or sinful behavior.
1 Peter 4:12-19
Suffering for Being a Christian
12 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household;and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And,
“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”[a]
19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”
Never are we ever, as Christians, to engage a non-believing world with anger, hatred, arguing or put downs. Are we engaging in mocking of politicians? Are we circulating embarrassing or humiliating memes with them on it? Are we craving something bad to happen to someone else? I hope not.
Some may say, “Well, Jesus used a whip to turn over the tables in the temple.” This is true, but he was confronting religious leaders who were turning the temple from a house of prayer into a den of thieves. When Jesus stood before Pilate, he was extremely respectful and careful.
Take care not to allow offense, anxiety and anger to take control of you. When we live in offense, someone else could say, “The sky is blue,” but all we hear is “You look blue.” Take care not to be ensnared by a spirit of offense. In fact, forgive those who hurt you.
Can you make a point to pray to ask the Lord to help you to engage the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ? Can you share your testimony or can you use your words and actions to point back to our savior? If we are constantly gospel-minded and thinking of how our words and actions will bring glory or shame to the name of Jesus, we will mostly likely begin to make a difference in a dark world. There are many people in the world right now, watching the way Christians are handling the election and the fall out. Will they see you spreading conspiracy theories from the under belly of the web? Or will they see you being respectful?
Do not suffer in vain. If you are going to suffer- suffer well. 🙂