2 Timothy 3; Jeremiah 9-10; Psalm 123
Well, the great persecution of Christians has truly begun. In the days after October 31, the (gasp) “holiday displays” are going up in the stores. The employees will harass us by saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” A major coffee company is brewing up some trouble because their holiday cup is plain red instead of being festooned with the biblical symbols of snowflakes and reindeer. Surely this must be a sign of the end times.
Perhaps I’m being a little heavy on the sarcasm there, but as I read Paul’s letter to Timothy, I couldn’t help but laugh as I thought about the way that some Christians react to how secular companies are handling the holiday season. This is not persecution. We can expect persecution, but this is not persecution. “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” (2 Timothy 3:12)
Persecution will come to Christians as we hold up the standards of godliness in our lives and live them out as compared to the standards of this world. Perhaps we’ve become too acclimated to the things of this world. As one of my professors once said, “The problem with Christians is that no one wants to kill them anymore.” We avoid persecution by blending in with the crowd and living like them.
We avoid persecution by not speaking of things like justice for the poor, and speaking out against the greed, abusiveness, and brutality that is endemic to our society. We don’t want to rock the boat on these issues, we just want our piece of the pie. True persecution is happening in some parts of the world and we watch it silently and protest with a “tsk, tsk, tsk, isn’t that horrible,” while doing nothing more. O, that our lives would be so godly that people would really want to persecute us.
Dear Lord, today as You speak to and about me, I pray that I would recognize the need to become more like You. Move in my heart to make my life more godly and make me ready to endure the persecution. If others read this and see this same need, give them the grace to be so godly that they are able to endure the persecution also.