Have you ever read those “Terms of Service” put out by a company that you are buying something from? I mean all the way through? Or do you, like most people, click the “I’ve read it” box without even opening the TOS? Or perhaps you open it and your eyes glaze over after the first 20 or so paragraphs so you click that box and go on. Gamestation counted on that April 1, 2010. For that day only they had in their terms of service that unless you checked a specific box you would forfeit your soul to them. You wouldn’t be selling your soul to the devil, you’d be giving your soul up to buy a game. 7,500 people bought from Gamestation that day and not one person clicked that box.
People were probably so excited by the fun of the game that they didn’t want to wade through all those terms. I think that’s true with faith, too. We hear that our sins will be forgiven; we hear that God will be with us; we may hear that everything will be great since God is now in control of our lives. We don’t read all the terms, though. We overlook when Jesus tells us that if the world hated Him, it would hate us too. We don’t like truths like that. We don’t like the idea that living for Jesus will actually bring us troubles we would not have had otherwise. “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:12-13)
Did you realize that when you “signed up” to be in God’s Kingdom? I didn’t at first. When I came to Christ I knew that the fellowship with God and His people and the joy of being with Him was what I had been looking for. Some are led to follow Christ because when you follow Him, “He’ll take care of all your problems.” The truth is that if you commit to following Jesus and living for Him daily, persecution will come. It may come where the persecutions lead to death, as in many countries through the years. That doesn’t happen to most of us, though. For most of us, that persecution will come in the forms of looks or hateful things said about us, either as a general remark about Christians or directed specifically at us. It will come in the form of lost jobs or promotions when our commitment to Christ interferes with job duties. Even worse will be when it comes from within the church as people attached to the church for social reasons seek to tone down your behavior because people don’t like it when you apply your faith and act on it. So, as you think about following Christ, persecution is part of the TOS.
While we should not seek persecution, of course, we should not run from it. Our response to persecution should be the same as that of Jesus. He loved those who persecuted Him. He challenged them at times. He showed God’s love to them, around them, with them, and through them. Most of our persecution now is very light, have no doubt about it. We have not faced death. We may be ridiculed; we may lose work, but we haven’t had to endure a lot. The best way to deal with persecution is still the way of Jesus: show God’s love and grace to the persecutors. A couple of interesting things happen in persecution. First, those who are evildoers and imposters in the church drop out of the church. Church loses its social status and people who are just in it for appearances lose interest. Second, the church grows as people see our commitment to Christ and our love for others in the face of persecution. What persecutors don’t realize is that persecution will never kill the church, it only makes it stronger in the long run. Keep the faith and show the grace!
Lord, the natural thing to do when I’m persecuted is to lash back. Hold my tongue. Protect me from my attitudes. Let me show Your love and grace to any who would persecute me even mildly.