Just in case you haven’t noticed, the world is getting more and more hostile towards followers of Christ. Hostility, or should I say brutality, towards Christians isn’t anything new as this has been the case since the birth of the Church after the ascension of Christ. While there have been times in history that the hostility has been more extreme than at other times, what is different is that we can see the unfolding of end time events coinciding with this increased hostility.
We’re seeing entire groups of people known to be followers of Christ in different parts of the world be massacred. We’ve heard of Christians being beheaded at the hands of religious extremists. I’ve even heard of an adult child, a Christian, be brutally chopped alive with his dad, also a Christian, being forced to watch. We may not be seeing any of this here in America, or at least on a large scale, but we are seeing a greater hostility towards followers of Christ. It may not be in the form of blood and violence, but it is there.
It’s easy for us to talk about Jesus and get excited when we gather together with other believers. It’s easy to talk about the Scriptures and our experiences. It’s even easy for us to go to Christian concerts and conferences, pray at meals, and sing songs about Jesus. But, when was the last time you were mocked, ridiculed, or even persecuted for the stand you took to honor Jesus with and in your life? When was the last time people unfriended or ostracized you because you refused to live according to the standards and behavior of the world, instead choosing to live according to the standards and behavior befitting a follower and ambassador of Christ? When was the last time those ridiculing and mocking you for your stand were fellow Christians?
I’m not talking about times when some well-meaning Christians are ridiculed for trying to impose or dictate to others their standards and way of life upon another, which often times creates resistance and resentments from them. I’m not even referring to those within our own family that are rejecting Christ and the way we are leading them according to His ways and that which honors Him first and foremost. What I’m referring to is when we attempt, in our own lives, to live in a way that honors Christ and best represents Him to those around us, and people don’t like it because it interferes with or goes against the way they’re living life.
In 1 Peter 3:13-17 and in 1 Peter 4:12-19, the Apostle Peter, a disciple of Jesus, tells us that it’s a good thing to suffer for doing good in the sight of God. He further instructs us, as followers of Christ, to not suffer for doing any wrongdoings, which implies that we shouldn’t as followers of Christ be involved in any wrong or evil activities of which we could get in trouble for. And just in case someone might argue that he was only addressing what we call the “big” sins, Peter gives us a broad scope to look at when he mentions murderers and busybody’s in the same sentence. If we suffer, even at the hands of other Christians, for doing that which is right and honorable in the sight of God, it is a good thing remembering how Christ suffered and was persecuted for all He said and did that was right in the sight of God. However, he makes it clear that it is shameful for us as followers of Christ to suffer for doing what is wrong and evil in God’s sight.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:13-14 that there are two gates by which people enter into eternity. He mentions, as many of us are already aware, that wide is the gate and broad or easy the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. He also tells us to enter through the narrow gate, telling us it is both narrow and difficult to enter but through which leads us to life, and that there are only few who enter by it. To live as the world would have us to, living by the standards and reasoning’s for life that the world embraces and tries to get us to live by, this is an easy way of living. However, to live according to the standards we’re told throughout the New Testament that a follower of Christ must live by, and in a way that honors the God of creation and the sacrifice Jesus made for our salvation, this can be very difficult to do when the world and its way of thinking is so contradictory to the way of life and mindsets befitting a follower of Christ, and this can make things very difficult. It becomes hard when the way the world thinks and does things appeals to our flesh, or when it conflicts with the way those closest to us chooses to think and do things, or when we’re put into a position when we have to choose between living or dying for Jesus and what others are offering us if we forsake Him.
We know that while Jesus walked up the hill to be crucified, having been forsaken by most of his followers, He was not alone. Both the Spirit of God and the Father, Himself, were with Him. And like Jesus, we are not alone. We know that the Spirit of God resides within us, and that there are other followers of Christ who walk the same road. We are also told in Hebrews 12:1 that there is a great cloud of witnesses. The narrow road and the narrow gate we must enter eternity through, though only few find it, it is not a lonely road. Others have traveled it long before us, and there will be others still who will travel it after us, but it is not a lonely road.
As we speedily approach the sounding of the trumpet and the return of our Savior, the road is going to become more and more difficult to travel and stay upon. True followers of Christ will suffer more and more persecution for the way they live and represent Christ, even from those closest to them or who profess to be Christians. Are you willing to stay the course of the narrow and difficult road through the narrow gate, or are you going to choose the broad and easy road that leads through the broad gate leading to destruction? The choice is up to you. It doesn’t matter that you gave your life to Jesus at some point in the past, you still retain a free will to choose through your life and the decisions you make whether or not to stay on that narrow and difficult road that leads to eternal life. We are quickly approaching the finish line that will eternally complete the redemptive process of salvation which was started when we gave our lives to Jesus, and no matter how we started the race the Apostle Paul refers to in our walk with Christ, whether or not we finish the race is entirely up to us. Remember, the narrow and difficult road by which we must live and walk upon, it’s not so lonely as one may feel it is a times. It’s the not so lonely road, the same road that leads to an eternity beyond anything we can ever dream or imagine. There is nothing here on earth, or any experience one may have, that can come close to what awaits those who enter through the narrow gate at the end.
To automatically receive notifications of future blog postings, subscribe at http://johnejo.com/rshophar/blogcentral/subscriptions/