“For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.” (Hebrews 12:3-4 NKJV)
When Christians in America talk about being persecuted for their faith, I try to be diplomatic and not laugh too loud. We may lose some friends. We may have to deal with some “looks.” Sometimes we may have to deal with legal issues. Those are inconveniences. The author of Hebrews reminds us that Jesus endured physical hostility from those in the world to the point of death on the cross. Many Christians in the early church underwent severe persecution ending up in prison, in the Coliseum as fodder for gladiators and lions, or just plain tortured and killed. The Christians of that time and place may not have had to deal with physical oppression and bloodshed, but many of their brothers and sisters already had. It would be easy for them to get weary and discouraged as they heard tales of what other Christians were going through, believing that they would be next. Perhaps our fear is that even though we aren’t dealing with physical persecution yet, the sinful nature of people makes us think that we’ll undergo persecution soon. And that fear is intensified as we see what happens in other countries where people are losing their lives or their freedom because they follow Christ openly. But we haven’t resisted to the point of bloodshed yet. Until we do, we need to run the race set before us and proclaim the love of Jesus to others.
Do you worry what others will think about you if you admit to following Jesus openly? Could it affect your job situation if people knew that you followed Christ? Our history and heritage as Christians began in an atmosphere of persecution. Would you rather gain the whole world and lose your soul, or hear God say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant?”
Lord, it’s easy to want to put my beliefs on the back burner and go along to get along in a world that’s becoming more hostile to You every day. Remind me that Jesus and other brothers and sisters in Christ down through the ages have endured far greater persecution than I ever will and hep me speak boldly about Your love.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.