Persecution with Benefits
“We feel sorry for Americans, because it is difficult to be a Christian in the United States.” My daughter, Jamie, who lived and worked in Northern Asia, shared this comment from an indigenous believer. She asked her why she felt that way. “Because Americans don’t really understand what it means to be a true follower of Jesus Christ. It’s too easy to be a “Christian” in name only, and when persecution comes, they will fall away.”
“But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away” (Matthew 13:21). “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecution, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
Many people in countries all around this globe, when presented with the gospel of Jesus Christ, must thoroughly weigh the cost for faith in the One True God and His Son Jesus Christ before they commit their lives to Christ. This is not a spur-of-the-moment or even an over-night decision for most, but one that may take years. Ostracization, loss of job, loss of family, imprisonment, and even torture and death are all possibilities for the one who is not ashamed of Jesus Christ.
Is it worth it to these Christians, the true Church of Jesus Christ? A resounding YES, because they have hope of eternal life in heaven with Him, a life so much better than anyone on earth has ever known! They have personally experienced new birth by trusting Jesus and His finished work on the cross. They know true joy and peace that come from knowing Christ regardless of their situation in life. They gladly pick up their cross and follow Him no matter the cost.
In America, is it easy for Christians to lay down the cross of Christ when it becomes inconvenient to carry? Then pick it up again when things settle down? Persecution has its benefits when it causes us to examine what we truly believe and act accordingly. Must it come to that?
“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you” (Psalm 9:9-10).