An erroneous view besetting the American Christian mindset believes that the will of God will always be comfortable. If things “go well” we view it as a sign of God’s blessing. However, a view held by many believers in countries with pervasive persecution is far more biblical.
Jesus promised that those who follow Him sacrificially “shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life” (Mark 10:30). We sometimes miss the with persecutions part of this. In the final hours before the cross, Jesus also told His disciples, “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also” (John 15:20). Jesus plainly says persecution is part of following Him.
Paul confirms, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12). Peter concurs and adds, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified” (1 Pet. 4:12-14). So, think it not strange concerning persecution.
As culture shifts more into relativism, pluralism, collectivism, pragmatism, and secularism, expect the loving but unbending message of the gospel to draw more and more persecution. But think it not strange.
To be sure, we need to be certain the offense is the gospel and not our personal abrasiveness or belligerence. But the more Jesus is seen and heard, the greater the attraction or repelling. For Jesus is the fragrance of life unto life to some and death unto death to others (2 Cor. 2:15-16).
John Van Gelderen